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Friday, February 13, 2009

It's Our Prerogative To Spoil The Bobby Brown Book

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2009 at 8:30 AM


(This fan-created photo graces the pages of Bobby Brown's unauthorized biography, and is apparently a true statement)

Warning: This post contains spoilers of Bobby Brown: The Truth, The Whole Truth And Nothing But . . . , the "un(authorized)? biography" by Derrick Handspike (Down South Books). Turn away now if you intend to read this book about the former Mr. Whitney Houston and R&B star, but if you want to save money and precious moments of your life, neither of which I can ever get back, read on . . .

Don't be cruel, you say? Sorry, it's my prerogative.

Author and publisher Handspike began this project with Bobby Brown's participation. He explains in his introduction that this changed after excerpts began to hit the media last summer, suggesting that Brown got cold feet and stopped communicating with him because he was afraid of Whitney Houston's legal might. Handspike claims he got more than 100,000 pre-sale orders and carried on the project so as not to disappoint those readers or waste the work he had already done.

While this sounds consistent with Brown's unpredictable behavior, reading the finished product suggests that maybe he jumped ship because the book is poorly written and not edited. In the hands of a seasoned musical biographer like Cheo Coker, David Ritz or Neil Strauss, this could have been genius, but Handspike proves that his close access to the subject isn't enough to carry the tale without a greater ability to translate the tale onto the printed page.

Handspike's narrative throughout is clunky and jarring, opting in most cases for generalized statements instead of specific ones. This becomes more irritating as he whisks through Brown's past lovers, giving no juicy details as he briefly reveals trysts with Madonna, Janet Jackson and Debbi Morgan of All My Children.

The book is frank about Brown's drug use, from suffering a heroin-induced stroke that has left his mouth permanently crooked to repeated re-enactments of the coke-snorting scene from Scarface:

"I had a desk like Scarface in the movie," says Bobby, "and I kept [coke] piled up on it. Every time I walked past my desk, I'd make a line of coke from one end to the other. I'd take a straw and snort a line the same way Scarface did it in the movie. You couldn't tell me nothing. I felt like I was Tony Montana!"

However, the biggest slap in the face to readers in the book is that virtually nothing is revealed about Whitney Houston's alleged drug addictions, a weakness that the writer tries to play off as an asset to Brown's character.

"Bobby knows half the people expected him to use this book to trash his ex-wife," he states. "Well, no! He's not that low! But what I can tell you is that, yes, maybe some of the things you have heard or read about her have some truth to them, and I will neither confirm it nor deny them . . . If his ex-wife ever wants to write a book on her life in the future, then he'll let her tell you her story!" How thoughtful.

Crack is wack, and so is this book.

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Tamara Palmer


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