Falling up

25 02 2017

The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise by Brix Smith Start

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The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise is the extraordinary story, in her own words, of Brix Smith Start. Best known for her work in The Fall at the time when they were perhaps the most powerful and influential anti-authoritarian postpunk band in the world — This Nation’s Saving Grace, The Wonderful and Frightening World Of … — Brix spent ten years in the band before a violent disintegration led to her exit and the end of her marriage with Mark E Smith.

But Brix’s story is much more than rock ‘n’ roll highs and lows in one of the most radically dysfunctional bands around. Growing up in the Hollywood Hills in the ’60s in a dilapidated pink mansion her life has taken her from luxury to destitution, from the cover of the NME to waitressing in California, via the industrial wasteland of Manchester in the 1980s. What emerges is a story of constant reinvention, jubilant highs and depressive ebbs; a singular journey of a teenage American girl on a collision course with English radicalism on her way to mid-life success on TV and in fashion.

Too bizarre, extreme and unlikely to exist in the pages of fiction, The Rise, The Fall, and The Rise could only exist in the pages of a memoir.

 

I do love a rock autobiography and couldn’t resist this extraordinary combination of the girl from the rich troubled Californian background and the wonderful and frightening world of Mark E Smith. From her messy but celebrity-peppered childhood (Cher was almost her babysitter) to her marriage to Smith and subsequent stint with Nigel Kennedy before further fame, fortune and happiness in the fashion world this really is a rollercoaster of a memoir.

It’s genuine and heartfelt and despite the privileged background Brix is someone who has been through a lot of pain but still come through successfully. It’s a really good read therefore (particularly so for Fall fans) with much to enjoy across the span of an eventful life.

 

And I do like this account of her early experience of British TV:

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(Note – a slightly different version of this brief review appeared recently in the Times Higher ‘What are you reading?’ section.)

stars-3-5.

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