USA TODAY US Edition
Be immersed in Prince’s ‘Beautiful’ genius
“The Beautiful Ones” is for everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Prince fanatic or if your interest is simply piqued by all things music or pop culture: The book is worth picking up.
Prince Nelson Rogers’ first – and only – written book hits shelves Tuesday.
“The Beautiful Ones” (Spiegel & Grau, 288 pp., ★★★★) is not a read, but an experience, an immersion inside the mind of a musical genius.
You are steeped in Prince’s images, his words, his essence.
When considering how he wanted to write the book, Prince told his collaborator and editor, Dan Piepenbring, that it would include “bombshells.”
But Piepenbring tells USA TODAY in an interview that because Prince died before they really had the chance to dive into the project, the bombshells he had in mind never came to light.
“Unfortunately, because he died so soon into it, there’s nothing really salacious or scandalous,” Piepenbring says. “I think the bombshells end up being kind of just the opposite.”
The book is quotidian Prince: Readers see the artist in his day to day more than the larger-than-life figure shrouded in mystery.
But understanding the boy who grew up in Minneapolis doesn’t take away from the musician’s mystique.
“I kind of like that the book kind of has this lack of resolution, and that really it’s kind of made up of fragments,” Piepenbring says.
“I think even had he lived, the mystery would still be intact, because he really was writing the book in part to understand
Framed by an introduction written by Piepenbring, the book offers a sort of coming-of-age story. It’s told through memories: drafted manuscript pages scratched on a legal pad, photos, handwritten lyrics, doodles, cartoons, quotes from newspaper articles.
The list goes on, the selections coming from more than 5,000 distinct items found at Paisley Park after Prince’s death, Piepenberg explains.
The materials are sorted into sections giving readers an intimate look at
Prince in different stages of life, including his childhood and the period during which he worked on his first record as a teenager.
And while it offers insight, the book may leave you feeling muddled – but that’s not a negative. The way the book is structured simply makes one want to read it again, to leaf through the pages and be immersed in Prince’s world.
“There is definitely a way he could be in conversation, digressive or discursive,” Piepenbring explains.
“He’d always bounce around from subject to subject, and then his mind was always working so feverishly.”
The wild, frenzied mode he operated under while brainstorming with Piepenbring is almost tangible within the pages of “The Beautiful Ones.”
The book can be a starting point for a Prince fascination, or a continuation of admiration. Either way, it will deepen the connection with the musical icon.