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Publisher's Summary

This program is read by the author and includes original music from the Airborne Toxic Event album Hollywood Park.

Hollywood Park is a remarkable memoir of a tumultuous life. Mikel Jollett was born into one of the country’s most infamous cults and subjected to a childhood filled with poverty, addiction, and emotional abuse. Yet, ultimately, his is a story of fierce love and family loyalty told in a raw, poetic voice that signals the emergence of a uniquely gifted writer.

We were never young. We were just too afraid of ourselves. No one told us who we were or what we were or where all our parents went. They would arrive like ghosts, visiting us for a morning, an afternoon. They would sit with us or walk around the grounds, to laugh or cry or toss us in the air while we screamed. Then they’d disappear again, for weeks, for months, for years, leaving us alone with our memories and dreams, our questions and confusion. 

So begins Hollywood Park, Mikel Jollett’s remarkable memoir. His story opens in an experimental commune in California, which later morphed into the Church of Synanon, one of the country’s most infamous and dangerous cults. Per the leader’s mandate, all children, including Jollett and his older brother, were separated from their parents when they were six months old, and handed over to the cult’s “School.” After spending years in what was essentially an orphanage, Mikel escaped the cult one morning with his mother and older brother. But in many ways, life outside Synanon was even harder and more erratic. 

In his raw, poetic and powerful voice, Jollett portrays a childhood filled with abject poverty, trauma, emotional abuse, delinquency and the lure of drugs and alcohol. Raised by a clinically depressed mother, tormented by his angry older brother, subjected to the unpredictability of troubled step-fathers and longing for contact with his father, a former heroin addict and ex-con, Jollett slowly, often painfully, builds a life that leads him to Stanford University and, eventually, to finding his voice as a writer and musician.

Hollywood Park is told at first through the limited perspective of a child, and then broadens as Jollett begins to understand the world around him. Although Mikel Jollett’s story is filled with heartbreak, it is ultimately an unforgettable portrayal of love at its fiercest and most loyal. 

Amazon.com Best Books of the Year - 2020

Esquire Magazine Best Books of the Year - 2020

A Macmillan Audio production from Celadon Books 

Praise for Hollywood Park:

"Musician Mikel Jollett is the tender voice of this harrowing memoir of a tumultuous coming-of-age.... Listeners will hang on every word, especially in the early chapters, which take place during his childhood. Jollett is very giving as he presses on in a raspy voice, sharing details of poverty, deprivation and drugs. Fans of his music will appreciate the short bursts at the beginnings and ends of chapters. The musical interludes soften the harsh realities he recounts as listeners celebrate his resilience." (Audiofile Magazine)

"Mikel Jollett, the front man of indie band Airborne Toxic Event, chronicles his tumultuous life.... What comes through the pages is a story of fierce love and family loyalty. This moving and profound memoir is for anyone who loves a good redemption story." (Good Morning America, 20 Books We're Excited for in 2020)

"The frontman of rock band Airborne Toxic Event chronicles, in gorgeous and exacting lyricism, his harrowing coming-of-age within (and eventual escape from) the Church of Synanon, a violent religious cult." (O, The Oprah Magazine, The 30 Most Anticipated Books of 2020 (So Far)

©2020 Mikel Jollett (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"Musician Mikel Jollett is the tender voice of this harrowing memoir of a tumultuous coming-of-age.... Listeners will hang on every word, especially in the early chapters, which take place during his childhood. Jollett is very giving as he presses on in a raspy voice, sharing details of poverty, deprivation and drugs. Fans of his music will appreciate the short bursts at the beginnings and ends of chapters. The musical interludes soften the harsh realities he recounts as listeners celebrate his resilience." (AudioFile Magazine)

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What listeners say about Hollywood Park

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  • Overall
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An honest and heartbreakingly beautiful memoir

This memoir is absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking. Mikel tells his story with warmth and honesty, and love. I have loved his band, The Airborne Toxic Event, for years, and it has always seemed that there was an unknown depth to their music. Something magical, special, unknown. Mikel writes songs that find their way into your very soul and recognize it for what it is. Listening to his memoir felt much like listening to his music. It gave me the same feeling. He’s a great writer. The word great sounds empty. Maybe magical or ethereal might work better. He conjured his world so clearly and left me awestruck.

8 people found this helpful

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I'm bad at headlines. Sorry, just read this book.

I have loved his lyrics for years and now, knowing the stories behind them, I love them even more. This book made me laugh out loud, sob silently and look at my own past with new eyes. I'm sure I'll listen to this again and hear even more, I'm for sure relistening to the albums.

7 people found this helpful

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I don’t have many words for this one

The way it made me feel - oh my - I felt like I was in his life with him, living it in the painful and the good!
Wow! I highly recommend this book to everyone!
I hate when books are over.

5 people found this helpful

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Great but heavy stories.

It’s amazing to see someone who went through so much produce such wonderful talented things for the world to enjoy.

4 people found this helpful

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Couldn't put it down

Absolutely amazing story and production. Listened to it in two days, didn't want it to end. Jollett's words are lyrical and his performance is at times both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time.

4 people found this helpful

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So great!

I love books read by the author and this one did not disappoint. Heartwrenching, but also heart warming.

4 people found this helpful

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Tell me more stories!

I've been an Airborne Toxic Event fan for over a decade. I always love the way Mikel tells stories in his songs and yet I still was not ready for just how his words blew me away chapter after chapter. Small nods and familiar phrases from songs I love trickeled through but never overshadowed this tragiccally beautiful coming of age story. A must listen(or read).

4 people found this helpful

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Perfection

I really don’t know where to begin with this one, and I know I’m biased as I’ve been a fan of The Airborne Toxic Event for many years, but this is without a doubt one of the best written stories I’ve ever heard. I cannot think of one single criticism, it’s simply heartbreakingly beautiful. But then it heals that broken heart as well. I’m changed.

4 people found this helpful

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riveting

One of those books where you're just rooting for a good ending. Subject matter is presented so tastefully yet truthfully

3 people found this helpful

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Great audio book

The story was quite interesting. The writing and narration were quite remarkable in my opinion..

3 people found this helpful