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Publisher's Summary

This program is read by the author, and includes archival recordings of conversations between the author and Prince. A warm and surprisingly real-life biography of one of rock’s greatest talents: Prince.

Neal Karlen was the only journalist Prince granted in-depth press interviews to for over a dozen years, from before Purple Rain to when the artist changed his name to an unpronounceable glyph. Karlen interviewed Prince for three Rolling Stone cover stories, wrote “3 Chains o’ Gold", Prince’s “rock video opera”, as well as the star’s last testament, which may be buried with Prince’s will underneath Prince’s vast and private compound, Paisley Park.

According to Prince's former fiancée Susannah Melvoin, Karlen was “the only reporter who made Prince sound like what he really sounded like”. Karlen quit writing about Prince a quarter-century before the mega-star died, but he never quit Prince, and the two remained friends for the last 31 years of the superstar’s life.

Well before they met as writer and subject, Prince and Karlen knew each other as two of the gang of kids who biked around Minneapolis’s mostly-segregated Northside. (They played basketball at the Dairy Queen next door to Karlen’s grandparents, two blocks from the budding musician.) He asserts that Prince can’t be understood without first understanding ‘70s Minneapolis, and that even Prince’s best friends knew only 15 percent of him: That was all he was willing and able to give, no matter how much he cared for them.

Going back to Prince Rogers Nelson's roots, especially his contradictory, often tortured, and sometimes violent relationship with his father, This Thing Called Life profoundly changes what we know about Prince, and explains him as no biography has: a superstar who calls in the middle of the night to talk, who loved The Wire and could quote from every episode of The Office, who frequented libraries and jammed spontaneously for local crowds (and fed everyone pancakes afterward), who was lonely but craved being alone. Listeners will drive around Minneapolis with Prince in a convertible, talk about movies and music and life, and watch as he tries not to curse, instead dishing a healthy dose of “mamma jammas”.

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press

©2020 Neal Karlen (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

“The stories, like Prince, are irresistibly fascinating and as elusive as float-like-a-butterfly Muhammad Ali, the rock star’s idol. This memoir is easily the most telling book about the late Prince thus far.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

What listeners say about This Thing Called Life

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  • Overall
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interesting

the story you will hear is verbose and unnecessarily flowery in its reading. The author gives a portrait of a man who made it very big and music but also gives The human side of his pain and tragedy nothing in this book disrespects the memory of Prince. Although a lot of fans will find some kind of fault in it, one has to remember that the person being written about was human, exactly like the rest of us. It is an interesting story told from an interesting perspective of a friend interviewing a friend.

4 people found this helpful

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don't let the hate fool you

This is a great Prince book. Anything that you disagree with here can be understood with plenty of information provided in this product. People say that this book is wrong for talking too openly and negatively but I prefer its honesty to any other prince book out so far. This is so far my favorite after the vault which is an entirely different trip than any of these others. Anyhow, this one is great and I like how the author challenges the normal business of Prince worship and talks about the man he knew the way he knew him personally. Its up there...

1 person found this helpful

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What a Unique Perspective on the life & times of Prince 💜💜

If you want an outsider’s view as he becomes a real insider , almost unbeknownst to himself... then this is the memoir for you. Karlen uses relatable imagery and terms that Prince himself would use to tell and weave the story of a rock genius. Sit back in the convertible and let Neal take you for a ride on the Prince Expressway of life, love and the Question of U.

1 person found this helpful

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A genuine inside look at the Icon genius

I was captivated at how real this book was. Expect the unexpected and truly done from a place of love and respect.

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Wonderfully sad and amazing

Wonderfully sad and amazing story from the inside out. Love is in the details! Thank u Neal!!!

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Betrayal by any Name is still Betrayal

The only thing worse than the author’s betrayal of Prince’s most intimate secrets is his reliance on Prince’s fan base to listen despite the discomfort. In this way, we’re betraying Prince as well. Some truths are reserved for the subject of the story to disclose or keep private. For example, how Prince really felt about his parents, religion, his band mates, etc. can’t really be known by anyone but him. Worst of all was his delving into the loss of his son. The author uses his perception of truth as a license to speak definitively knowing that Prince can’t refute his claims. While there were plenty of great moments to make the purchase worth it, loyal Prince fans will cringe at the end of every chapter. I walked away feeling enlightened but dirty for participating

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This thing called life

Like many Prince fans I have read or listened to many of the fascinating stories about Prince. What has become very clear is the people who knew Prince from his younger days in Minneapolis or worked with Prince have a much more intimate story of him as a person than someone on the outside. This is very good audiobook but not for typical Prince fans who may get offended by some of the personal stories or audio recordings of Prince talking.