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Acid for the Children

Published by Grand Central

Nov 11, 2019 Bookmark and Share

Flea does not, at first blush, strike you as a hidden literary great. But with his new book, Acid for the Children, the Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist has written one of the best musical memoirs of the year.

It should be noted that Acid for the Children is an origin story. While it finds Flea meeting band members Anthony Kiedis and Hillel Slovak toward the book’s middle and end, it does not chronicle the band’s history. It ends with the group on the verge of storming the L.A. scene.

Instead, Acid for the Children deeply mines Flea’s own personal history, the experiences that led him to be the person he is and the musician he became. As a writer, Flea is charming, witty, unfailingly honest, and as introspective as a reader could ever want from a writer. His memoir is a self-examination as much as it is a history.

The book is long, at nearly 400 pages, but the chapters are short, most 2-3 pages. But it’s not for a lack of focus; it gives the book pace, and allows or an immersive experience. The book is told largely in anecdotes, and Flea’s storytelling is second to none, as he ultimately weaves these anecdotes into the larger picture of who he’s become.

Flea traces his tale from Australia to the suburbs of New York and eventually L.A., all the while battling demons and family history with the same ferocity with which he attacks his instrument. Sure, there are tales of hijinks. Kiedis and Flea get into any number of questionable situations as the pair find themselves exploring the streets of L.A. But the insights Flea gleans from his early life history are laid bare, and the reader cannot help but commend his journey and his willingness to openly share it.

Acid for the Children is a wonderful self-examination and everything one could hope a memoir would be. At the book’s end, he hints at volume two, which will perhaps detail more of the RHCP lore that readers might have initially expected when picking up this book. Whether it’s simply a tease or just a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of what Acid for the Children is missing, whether it will come to pass or not, is irrelevant. One has already read the story of the man finding himself and forging an identity despite or perhaps because of, the odds. And for this, Flea should be lauded.


Author rating: 8/10

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