Sunday, October 28, 2007

Not *NSYNC with the literary thang...

If anyone actually frequents this blog, they know that I was and am an *NSYNC fan. No matter how much I try to deny it to friends and family members, I can’t stay closeted for long. When I heard that Lance Bass, the now openly gay star of the group, was writing a memoir about his life in and out of *NSYNC, I was thrilled. As a fan, I patiently awaited the gossip about the pop scene I loved so much. (JC Chasez, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera are still some of my favorite musicians). As a writer fighting to see my manuscript in hardback, I’m bitter that Lance could pretty much get a deal without trying or ever typing a word. In promotion for his book, he mentioned using a ghostwriter, and then complained that “writing” a book is “time-consuming.” Comments such as these smothered my excitement for juicy behind-the-curtains dirt. Comments such as 20/20’s “Justin Timberlake strung us along” made my eye twitch, but the man has quite a story to tell.

After watching Lance on The View, Good Morning America, and Tyra, (where she had the balls to ask if he ever had sex with women and if he enjoyed it.) I was both curious about the book, but irritated by Lance’s need to toss out tidbits, like tabloid chum about Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, in order to create and sustain a media frenzy. But that is all part of the game.

Yesterday, I popped into the nearest Barnes and Noble and devoured Out of Sync. The book is a quick read with an interesting and amazing story which gave me more admiration and respect for Bass, more abhorrence for Lou Pearlman, and dredged up the sadness about the extremely mishandled disbandment of the band that provided a soundtrack and solace during my adolescence and early adulthood.

Unfortunately, the salacious tidbits of gossip were rare, usually hidden between a plethora of “um, duh…” confessions such as Joey Fatone's love of porn or that his release from the Russian Space Program hurt him deeply, but Lance let his smile be his umbrella, which cushioned his fall back to earth. (Although I did learn fun facts like *NSYNC recorded their demo in Shaq’s house and Chris Kirkpatrick was almost a Backstreet Boy!) Also, the overall voice of the novel was little more than a 7th grade narrative assignment filled with fortune-cookie logic than the coming-of-age retelling of Lance’s most personal and complex sentiments during his famed life. Either Lance hired an inexperienced ghostwriter or encouraged him to write a watered-down, squeaky-clean, parent-friendly version of his story for the typical 14-year-old *NSYNC fan. Uh, Bass, it’s been five years and most of your fans are well over drinking age, bring the heat!

The realizations about fame, being a closeted, gay man from the Bible Belt and his botched attempt at reaching the final frontier as a Cosmonaut ring hollow and incomplete, because Bass only skimmed the surface of what it probably felt like when the planets aligned and your dreams came true…and how much it hurt when they didn't. (It also doesn’t help that a some factual information was incorrect.) I spent most of the time tightening the prose in my head and wishing he’d explained his emotions on a deeper level than being riveted by the power of his story. I wish Marc Eliot, who wrote the introduction, had written the entire book.

It is, however, surprising and refreshing that Lance still seems to have that genuine, laid-back happiness as a teenager from rural Mississippi, the first *NSYNCer I’d ever laid eyes on in 2003, and now a 28 year-old gay man finally free to be himself. He stubbornly treats challenges and criticisms as unimportant distractions, always keeping those pale green eyes on the prize. He left home at sixteen, became apart of the biggest (boy)band in the world, became a certified Cosmonaut (a process which included a sedation-less colonoscopy and a risky, elective cardiac procedure) and settled into his life after *NSYNC with a positive, 7th Heaven-ish attitude which I simultaneously envy and admire. While Lance might not add bestseller to his list of careers, the memoir of his time in *NSYNC is a pleasant Saturday read and only solidifies my admiration for the southern boy turned accomplished businessman and musician. It was a true pleasure for this fangirl to revisit those memories. With that said, I do think that a memoir written by the fearless and hilarious Chris Kirkpatrick or the eccentric songwriting genius of JC Chasez would be a more entertaining read.

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