MARTHA WAINWRIGHT – STORIES I MIGHT REGRET TELLING YOU: A MEMOIR
RANDOM HOUSE CANADA
BOOK REVIEW BY AARON BADGLEY
Martha Wainwright comes from a very famous family. Her mother was Kate McGarrigle, one half of Kate and Anna McGarrigle and her dad is Loudon Wainwright III, who has quite a career himself. Not to mention, she also has a very famous older brother, Rufus Wainwright. For this book, her first and a memoir, Wainwright tells her story. This is not a history of Kate and Anna McGarrigle, but rather a book from Wainwright’s perception about her life. Wainwright makes it clear throughout the book her name shut more doors than opened them. And, to be honest, this is what makes this book so good, her honesty. Her honesty and her humour. Names are dropped casually but not to impress but rather to give an example of the unusual upbringing she experienced. Not everyone meets Robert Plant when they are a kid and is told that their father is a genius.
Wainwright does not flinch telling her story. This is not a book to get back at anyone, nor is she complaining about her life. If anything, often she goes out of her way to defend some pretty questionable parental behaviour. But again, this is what makes the book so good and hard to put down. One just wants to see what is next in this person’s life.
A lot has to do with her style of writing. It is not so much conversational, but direct. She writes in a very straightforward manner. Wainwright is not bragging about her numerous experiences with drinking, drugs, and partying, and nor is she writing as a stark warning to others. It is merely her story. She is clear that these experiences made who she is now. In some ways that is the meaning of the book, that she came through all of this and wants to share her story.
In some ways these stories and the book fill in the gaps from her albums. A lot of her music is autobiographical and this book features stories that provide more detail to those songs. It brings a whole new level and understanding to her music. It certainly gives her music a great deal of context.
The title is quite appropriate: Stories I Might Regret Telling You: A Memoir, although she has nothing to regret. Wainwright has a great sense of humour and a great sense of herself. Her reconnecting with her parents and family is astounding and quite emotional. Again, she is telling her story, she is not trying to preach to the reader. With this book, Wainwright has come up with a great story, and a great book. Stories I Might Regret Telling You: A Memoir is free from padding and is a beautifully constructed and written book.