By Miki Berenyi
By the time I finished Fingers Crossed, the autobiography of Lush singer-guitarist Miki Berenyi, I couldn't help but feel the same way I felt after watching Stanley Kubrick's Vietnam opus Full Metal Jacket. It's like I had been told two distinct stories, one setting up the other.
Like the 1987 film, the first half of Berenyi's account (a meticulous recollection based on extensive diaries kept throughout her life), alternates between harrowing and humorous detailing the often tumultuous and unconventional family life of Berenyi's youth including the abuse she suffered as well as the racism to which she was subjected as a half-Japanese half-Hungarian growing up in the UK.
The narrative is occasionally reminiscent of Catcher In The Rye as Berenyi navigates the many pitfalls and unseemly characters of her youth while her honesty and inner monologue is fully exhibited for the reader.
The back half of the book documents her time in Lush. This is where the story takes on a more conventional rock-band biography format - well, almost. Where books like Motley Crue's The Dirt is a warts and all first person account, it clearly takes a position of glorification of the band's many issues and antics, Fingers Crossed details them with a more matter of fact and introspective tone. And while the obvious psychological and emotional damage of the Replacements was brilliantly captured in Bob Mehr's Trouble Boys, it was not a first person account as is Berenyi's.
In Fingers Crossed, Berenyi is able to fully explore all of her feelings for Lush's rise and eventual plateau (there is never a fall, per se), her complex relationship with high school friend, turned band co-founder, turned semi-rival turned fully-estranged Emma Anderson, late drummer Chris Acland as well as a host of managers, reps, crew members, festivals, other bands, Britpop, the UK media and so on and so forth.
As stated, Berenyi's extensive diary writing allows for Fingers Crossed to be a vivid and detailed recollection of not only Lush's career but acts as a snapshot of the music industry as a whole during the late 80s through the 90s and beyond. Her honesty, wit, humour, sarcasm combines with a 'doesn't suffer fools lightly' attitude which is an intoxicating mix and allows the stories to flow at a rapid pace while never feeling scattered.
Alternately hilarious, angering and informative, Fingers Crossed is a wonderfully-heartfuly document of a band, a scene, a life and time.
Highly, highly recommended and enjoyed.