Have you ever read a memoir of someone who you’d never heard of?
That was me, going into Hollywood Park.
I didn’t know who Mikel Jollett was. I had never heard of his band The Airborne Toxic Event. I had no idea what I was getting into.
Let me tell you what I got into.
After escaping from a violent religious cult very young, Mikel’s subsequent tumultuous upbringing is anything but healthy. A physically absent father, an emotionally absent mother, and stream of emotionally abusive stepdads round out the lack of any substantial role models in his life.
Poverty, addiction, abuse, and so many other cards are stacked against this young boy. But the love he has for his family is fierce, and while the life he leads may be full of continuous heartbreaks, you will root for him the entire time and cheer for the snippets of good peppered throughout.
“Jollett engagingly narrates his story…result[ing] in a shocking but contemplative memoir about the aftermath of an unhealthy upbringing.”
―Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW
Mikel’s memoir is written from the time he escapes the cult, to present day and it is abundantly clear he is a musician. The prose is beautiful, and lyrical, and reads like a song.
The audio is STUNNING, and has snippets of music that make you feel like you are watching everything unfold as if in a movie.
I was riveted from the second I picked up this book. I now know who Mikel is. His story is raw, and vulnerable, and pretty wild! I have now downloaded several of his songs.
I’ve googled him, and cults, more times than I’d like to admit! And this might just be one of my favorite memoirs ever.
“The frontman of rock band Airborne Toxic Event chronicles, in gorgeous and exacting lyricism, his harrowing coming-of-age within (and eventual escape from) the Church of Synanon, a violent religious cult.”
―O, The Oprah Magazine, The 30 Most Anticipated Books of 2020 (so Far)
You can grab this one on May 26th!
Get your copy here!
- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Celadon Books (May 26, 2020)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1250621569
- ISBN-13: 978-1250621566
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.2 inches
About the book:
HOLLYWOOD PARK is a remarkable memoir of a tumultuous life. Mikel Jollett was born into one of the country’s most infamous cults, and subjected to a childhood filled with poverty, addiction, and emotional abuse. Yet, ultimately, his is a story of fierce love and family loyalty told in a raw, poetic voice that signals the emergence of a uniquely gifted writer.
We were never young. We were just too afraid of ourselves. No one told us who we were or what we were or where all our parents went. They would arrive like ghosts, visiting us for a morning, an afternoon. They would sit with us or walk around the grounds, to laugh or cry or toss us in the air while we screamed. Then they’d disappear again, for weeks, for months, for years, leaving us alone with our memories and dreams, our questions and confusion. …
So begins Hollywood Park, Mikel Jollett’s remarkable memoir. His story opens in an experimental commune in California, which later morphed into the Church of Synanon, one of the country’s most infamous and dangerous cults. Per the leader’s mandate, all children, including Jollett and his older brother, were separated from their parents when they were six months old, and handed over to the cult’s “School.” After spending years in what was essentially an orphanage, Mikel escaped the cult one morning with his mother and older brother. But in many ways, life outside Synanon was even harder and more erratic.
In his raw, poetic and powerful voice, Jollett portrays a childhood filled with abject poverty, trauma, emotional abuse, delinquency and the lure of drugs and alcohol. Raised by a clinically depressed mother, tormented by his angry older brother, subjected to the unpredictability of troubled step-fathers and longing for contact with his father, a former heroin addict and ex-con, Jollett slowly, often painfully, builds a life that leads him to Stanford University and, eventually, to finding his voice as a writer and musician.
Hollywood Park is told at first through the limited perspective of a child, and then broadens as Jollett begins to understand the world around him. Although Mikel Jollett’s story is filled with heartbreak, it is ultimately an unforgettable portrayal of love at its fiercest and most loyal.
About the author:
Mikel Jollett is the frontman of the indie band The Airborne Toxic Event. Prior to forming the band, Jollett graduated with honors from Stanford University.
He was an on-air columnist for NPR’s All Things Considered, an editor-at-large for Men’s Health and an editor at Filter magazine. His fiction has been published in McSweeney’s.