Review: A Perfect Union of Contrary Things

Last week my copy of Maynard James Keenan’s biography – A Perfect Union of Contrary Things arrived from the US, and over the last few days I’ve read through it, and composed a few thoughts in a review of sorts.  If you haven’t read the book, below contains a few minor spoilers of sorts, but nothing that should ruin your enjoyment of it.

The first half of the book covers Maynard’s life pre-Tool.  It goes through his upbringing with his mother in Ohio, then father in Scottville, time in the military, Boston and eventually LA.  It talks about his various pre-Tool bands such as texA.N.S., C.A.D. and adventures with Green Jelly. I found this section interesting and insightful, and painted a great picture of how Maynard evolved into the man he is today.

Moving onto Tool, it covers the beginnings of the band quite well, recounting stories with Tom Morello (and how he considered Maynard for the singing role in Rage Against The Machine) and the coming together of the band with Danny and Adam.  It tells anecdotes of the first few Tool shows, as well as their dealings with record labels during the signing process.  We also get some good insight into his work on the comedy scene including the famous Cuntry Boner performance with Laura Milligan with Adam joining in.

We get to hear the story of Maynard’s move to Arizona, as well as the tale behind his time and self discovery with some local Native Americans.  It gives us a good feel for Maynard’s connection, not just with the land but with nature in general – it’s a theme that has been with him throughout his life.

From then on though the book becomes a bit of a blur – Lateralus and 10,000 Days don’t get much more than a couple of paragraphs each, same with A Perfect Circle post-Mer De Noms.  Even Puscifer gets squeezed into a single chapter.

Hi wine making exploits get good coverage, but there is no mention of Blood Into Wine and some of the topics (and personalities) contained within.  We don’t really get much insight into delays in Tool albums except that Maynard doesn’t write his lyrics until the music is done (which differs quite a bit from the Opiate and Undertow it would appear).

Overall I was both pleased and disappointed with the book.  The first half I found quite interesting – surprisingly so since it really doesn’t cover much of what we Tool fans would expect.  It is well written, and paints a great picture of Maynard’s upbringing, and as well for me insight into the difference between growing up in the USA vs Australia.

This was tempered with what I felt was a somewhat disappointing second half.  Maynard’s “rockstar” career I felt was overly abbreviated, and was left craving more detail into almost everything.  Touring really isn’t discussed in any depth, nor is recording.  It wasn’t like he pushed one agenda over the other either – his recent work with Puscifer and wine making doesn’t get a whole lot more page space than his other projects.  I feel like there is more to be told and would come as no surprise if there were to be some kind of Tool biography, or even an MJK book that focuses on his music career – I (and I expect many here) would read this.

Negatives aside, I come away from the book feeling like I know much more about Maynard the person – and I expect this was probably the goal behind this story being told.  It’ll sound corny to some of you, but I do feel inspired by some of the words Maynard has had to say, and some of the philosophies behind how he works.  This book won’t change your life, but may challenge you to reconsider how you consider some aspects of life.

A Perfect Union of Contrary Things is an authorised biography written by Sarah Jensen with Maynard offering frequent insights into her writing.  You can grab a copy from Amazon!

A Perfect Union of Contrary Things

A Perfect Union of Contrary Things

 

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Maynerd
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Maynerd

Sounds like a terrible read.
I definitely won’t be paying for it.
Just the cover image alone makes me want throw an apple at his fat head.

Sollus
Member
Sollus

Cool story.

falseidol
Member
falseidol

Lol. Definitely how I feel given his anti-Tool (and anti-Tool FAN) rhetoric as of the last few years.

However, I still respect MJK greatly and will continue to have fond memories of all projects he has been involved with…
I’m glad he is opening up more by way of a book.

Still though… I wish he’d tone down the sarcasm when dealing with Tool related questions.

I cannot help but feel he has MORE HUMBLING to go through.

hexagone
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hexagone

I’m suprised there’s any tool at all in it. Thanks for the review, it actually made me want to read it more.

rinkwhopper
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rinkwhopper

Fair analysis. I thought it was odd to blur over so many things.

DTWAirport
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DTWAirport

The book review in Chicago was very interesting. It’s such a rare chance to see Maynard not in performance mode. Two of the three passages he read were chosen by the moderator (who did a good job). MJK then went into greater detail on why these passages were important in his life/career/journey. His connection to community, the land and greater good was a constant theme in all the passages and practically every time he spoke. This was what I anticipated and expected from a “book reading”. However….the Tool fans in the room weren’t happy. It also put MJK on edge.… Read more »

offskooring
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offskooring

In a podcast interview with him he stated that there would definitely be a Tool Book where they would go much more into depth regarding tool …seems appropriate that he would want to leave much of the detail to that book since there’s three other band members that would probably want to have input

rzrbck79
Member

I thought the NYC stop was amazing. Seeing Maynard in a different capacity was a cool experience. My mom and I made a short vacation out of the trip and sitting front row with her was special. My wife and I are headed to the Dallas show on Sunday. I agree with Hellboy about how the book focuses more on the what and less on the why. I suspect some of that has to do with the nature of a biography. Had it been written by Maynard, we might have gotten more insight. It’s very well written and I highly… Read more »

Jethro Tool
Member
Jethro Tool

Finally finished the book – only got delivered in Dec. Was interesting tho nobody in the book had anything at all bad to say about him. Not realistic. A couple of times the author mentioned candles being lit and nobody being alone which bugged me. Adam doesn’t get much of a mention in the main text or acknowledgments which isnt fair on him in my opinion. Its readable if a little flowery…