Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Me by Ricky Martin

I’m not going to lie; I didn’t have the highest of expectations for "Me" by Ricky Martin. Actually, even when I went to the book store to buy it the cashier looked at me and said, “really?” I decided to delve straight into it anyways and see what Ricky Martin is really all about. And as I read his book, I realized that I shouldn’t have been so quick to judge it. His story is actually quite interesting.

Martin’s writing style is typical of most celebrity autobiographies, which is fine. I also had to remind myself that he is an actor and musician, not a professional author. He starts his story reminiscing about his days as a six-year-old boy in Puerto Rico, singing into a spoon for his family. I thought that was a nice, cute way to start the story. Not only is it a nice anecdote, but it also completely (and obviously) ties into his career in the future. In this, I mean to say he does a nice job tying up loose ends that would seem not to fit into the story. The spoon anecdote is definitely a good one, but what would have been the point of including it if Martin had not become a singer in his adult life? This may seem like a minor good point, especially for a written work (where it can be so easy to tie everything together), but it actually points to a greater skill. Ricky Martin has the incredible ability to psychoanalyze himself and everything he’s done and relate it all back to something in his childhood. Everything connects to something previous. He’s also found a deeper spiritual meaning for every event that’s happened in his life and he never fails to explain it. Some people would probably get bored reading that, while others will enjoy it. But that makes the book much more than a celebrity autobiography.

Me, being the nitpicky reader I am, have only two real criticisms. The first being the amount of the book where he talks about his humanitarian efforts. Obviously it’s great that Martin’s devoted himself to such a noble cause, (that cause being trying to stop human trafficking), but spending around a quarter of the book talking about it seemed a bit much in my opinion. After seeing the phrase “men pay thousands of dollars for the virginities of eight-year-old boys and girls” for about the fourth time, I’ll admit that I had to skim the rest of the section. But I will say that I do believe him when he says that his efforts are not simply to make him look good. He really does believe in his cause and is truly horrified by the problem. My other criticism, being a very minor one, is one of fact checking. Being a musician myself, I was very happy to see that he cited his early musical inclination was rock music. But he mistakenly said that Led Zeppelin was an American rock band, when in reality the entire band is from England. Ordinarily I wouldn’t be so disturbed by that mistake, but Led Zeppelin is my favorite band. And the fact that he made a mistake about where one of the most famous bands in history is from makes me feel a little hesitant about the truth of all the other facts in the book. But that’s just a really minor error.

Though this book is written for adults, I believe that kids as young as 15 could read it. The style is very clear and his word choice makes the book a universally easy and quick read. There are brief sentences about sexual encounters and a large section of the book is about human trafficking, so I probably would not want to read this book if I was not mentally ready to hear about those things.

The best point of Martin’s memoir though would be his message. Though the underlying theme is Zen Buddhism, he makes sure to incorporate all beliefs into his book. His main idea is really that of coexisting. He preaches, without being overtly didactic about it, that we must not simply tolerate other people and what they do or believe in, but we should accept them as they are and peacefully live with them. I think that distinction between tolerance and acceptance and spreading the message of acceptance is going to play a really key role in these next few years, especially for the GLBTQ community.

Review by Soraya. Add your review of "Me" by Ricky Martin in comments!


Sally Bibrary said...

Interesting. I'm not a Ricky Martin fan at all, but this sounds like it could be worth a read (I'm such a sucker for a good queer biography or memoir).

I have Justin Vivian Bond's "Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels" cued up for my next read.

ivanova said...

Ricky Martin is not a professional writer, so he most likely had a ghost writer, and it's that person's job to make it "good writing." I agree that the Led Zeppelin mistake is EGREGIOUS! The editor must have been asleep at the wheel to let that one go by. Nice review, Soraya!

Soraya said...

Thank you guys for all your support!