McDonough, Jimmy 1960(?)-
McDONOUGH, Jimmy 1960(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1960.
ADDRESSES: Home—Amboy, WA. Agent—c/o Random House, Inc. c/o Random House Trade Publishing Group Publicity, 299 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10171.
CAREER: Biographer and journalist.
The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of AndyMilligan, A Cappella (Chicago, IL), 2001.
Contributor to periodicals, including Variety, Village Voice, Film Comment, Mojo, Spin, and Juggs.
SIDELIGHTS: Veteran American journalist Jimmy McDonough's first two published books are both biographies of individuals known for their enigmatic personalities. His first work, published in 2001, is The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Andy Milligan, which examines the life of shock film-maker Andy Milligan (1929-1991). A year later McDonough published the long-awaited and highly anticipated Shakey: Neil Young's Biography, the first authorized biography of rock and roll legend Neil Young. The book, which McDonough actually began researching and writing in 1991, was held up in court for several years after Young, who originally supported the project, tried to use legal means to keep it from being published after it was completed in 1998. In addition to being a regular writer for the Village Voice, Mc-Donough has contributed articles to Variety, Film Comment, Mojo, and Spin.
Some observers have called McDonough one of the most recognized music writers in America. "McDonough's writing is tough, probing, full of street-hustler style, yet hits with a cerebral impact," Metro-Active Music's Jonny Whiteside once wrote. McDonough employs his unique style in writing both his books. For example, in The Ghastly One, he describes Milligan as "one of those creatures who ride the midnight train," and "come from the land of the screaming skulls." In the book, McDonough explains that he was a fan of Milligan's films before he set out to write the book.
According to McDonough, filmgoers like himself are attracted to Milligan's movies in a similar fashion to the way people "gawk at car accidents, read lurid detective magazines, eyeball the dead two-headed baby in a jar." Milligan, who died of AIDS, shot almost thirty films between 1965 and 1988. Topics like sadism and misogyny are regularly explored in his films, which include The Naked Witch, The Orgy at Lil's Place, Torture Dungeon, and Depraved! McDonough explains in his book that Milligan first gained attention when his 1965 film Vapors included scenes of male nudity and rendered a frank view of homosexuality.
While Milligan's films may have been known for their shock value, McDonough points out that they were not recognized for their technical craftsmanship. "Andy slapped his movies together with nary a thought for pacing, with dialogue that sounds like it was recorded through a tin can, and stories that suffer from holes you could drive a truck through," McDonough writes. "When Andy's movies are bad, there's nothing—nothing—worse. . . But scratch the dirty surface of Milligan's pictures and a very personal kind of poison seeps out of every frame."
Much of the The Ghastly One includes verbatim interviews that the author conducted with Milligan before his death. In addition to analyzing Milligan's films, McDonough also describes the film-maker's destructive lifestyle, which included many of the same elements he explored in his films. A number of literary critics praised The Ghastly One, including Mike Tribby of Booklist, who called it a "strangely fascinating story." A contributor for Publishers Weekly felt the work reveal Milligan as "a man who could be alternately brutally honest, obstructionist, deceitful and quite kind."
McDonough's decision to write a biography about Neil Young stemmed from an interview he conducted with the musician in 1989 for the Village Voice. The often-reclusive Young was so impressed with McDonough's subsequent story, he requested the writer pen the liner notes for a twenty-fifth anniversary anthology of his music. The success of this endeavor led to Young asking McDonough to write an authorized biography of his life and career. After sitting through five consecutive days of interviews with Young, Mc-Donough set about the task of what eventually became an 800-page manuscript. Despite his initial approval of the work, Young hired several lawyers in late 1998 to block its publication. As a result, McDonough filed a $1.8 million lawsuit against Young, charging the musician with breach of contract. McDonough also sued to have the book published. McDonough won the case, which was heard in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, and the book was published in 2002.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Austin Chronicle, December 28, 2001, Marc Savlov, "Behind the Screens."
Book, May-June, 2002, Josh Karp, "Neil Young: Rockin' in the Free World," p. 23.
Booklist, August, 2001, Mike Tribby, review of The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Andy Milligan, p. 2073.
Entertainment Weekly, May 17, 2002, Troy Patterson, review of Shakey: Neil Young's Biography.
Publishers Weekly, July 23, 2001, review of The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Andy Milligan, p. 57.
Variety, May 8, 2000, Jonathan Bing and Janet Shprintz, "Young Pulls His Support from McDonough Bio," p. 4.
Independent Publisher's Group,http://www.ipgbook.com/ (January 30, 2002).
MetroActive Music Web site,http://www.metroactive.com/ (November 2, 2000), Jonny Whiteside, "Broken Arrow: Neil Young's Biographer Goes to Court."
MTV News Online,http://www.mtv.com/news (May 2, 2000), John Gill, "Neil Young Sued by Bio Author."
PopMatters.com,http://www.popmatters.com/ (January 30, 2002), David Sanjek, review of The Ghastly One: The Sex-Gore Netherworld of Andy Milligan.*