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Frank's Book Log

Literature is a relative term.


The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys
2016 | Nonfiction
A cover of Cured by Lol Tolhurst (2016)
A-: 5 stars (out of 5)
on Jul 18, 2022

After enjoying Johnny Marr’s autobiography, I turned to this well-received memoir from Lol Tolhurst, founding member of The Cure. As a big Cure fan in my teens—and still partial to their back catalog—I came in interested.

Tolhurst proves a grand raconteur, transporting the listener back to 1970s new town England, a land of perpetual greyness. Looking for an escape, his longtime friend Robert Smith starts a band. Lol teaches himself to play drums to join. The Cure (then called Easy Cure) is born. They rehearse three times a week every week, and soon they’re playing live gigs. They keep rehearsing and writing, getting better and better. After an aborted record deal with Hansa, they land with fledgling Fiction records. Guided by Fiction founder Chris Parry, their ascent to stardom begins.

Along the way, we get some memorable anecdotes, like peeing on Billy Idol:

He gave me one of his trademark sneers and I hastily zipped up and hightailed it out of there in a flurry of drunken apologies.

Or conversing with Terri Hooley, only to realize the punk icon was asleep and his one open eye was glass:

At least he didn’t take it out and pop it in my beer, which I hear he liked to do sometimes. Terri Hooley, a lovely man and a true punk original.

Not all the stories are humorous. Lol’s drinking grows problematic. At an after-hours club, he gets into a drunken fight, resulting in taking a pint glass to the face. After a trip to the ER and stitches, he returns to the club:

Tomorrow I was bound to look much worse. I decided to drink until I no longer cared how I looked or felt. And so I did. It was three in the morning on December 24, 1979.

As the band’s ascent continues, they embark on their first visit to America via New York City. Lol and Robert prove eager to experience American delicacies:

The other touchstone was Marvel comics. They were readily available in England in the 1970s. The stories were the usual good vs. evil stuff and often set in the very city we were in, but what intrigued me and Robert as teens were the adverts in the back for items unavailable or unknown to us then in the UK. Twinkies, for one. So as our first foray into America we set out on a mission to find and consume a Twinkie.

And as their international fame grows, so does their fan base:

Contrary to popular belief, we were not pale-faced Goths who sat in dark rooms with candles and cried all the time. Although we did have some fans like that—two very sweet Japanese girls used to just stand and cry in front of us whenever they managed to come into contact with us. We named them Doom and Gloom. In the nicest way, you understand.

But Lol’s drinking soon consumes him, culminating in his dismissal from the band post Disintegration. Estranged from the band—his surrogate family—he moves to Los Angeles, sobers up, and finds happiness in raising his son. This “post band” part of the story can drag or seem self-indulgent in memoirs, but Tolhurst keeps it short and grounded. The eventual reconciliation between him and Robert proves just as understated and even more poignant for it.

I’m glad I chose the audiobook. Lol proves a natural storyteller. His neutral tone lends a quiet authority, and hearing the ever-so-slight crack in his voice during the story’s rougher moments conveys far more emphasis than the written page’s overused exclamation points.

Reading History

    Mon Jul 18, 2022 via Audible (Read by Lol Tolhurst)
    Listened to over 3 Days
    1. 16 Jul, 2022
    2. 17 Jul, 2022
    3. 18 Jul, 2022