Extreme: My Autobiography
Author: Sharon Osbourne (with Penelope Dening)
Publisher: Time Warner
“I don’t want to be seen as a victim, someone who was taken advantage of. When I was younger, it was true that I didn’t know what was happening. But by this time, I knew that much of what my father did was wrong. But I chose to turn a blind eye and say nothing. I would do what he wanted me to do, albeit under duress. I could have left before, but I chose to stay because I liked the lifestyle and didn’t want to give up the luxury. But now I had made my decision. I had to go.”
Before reality television made her a household name, Sharon Osbourne was a well-known figure in the music industry, even if the average person only knew of her as Black Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne’s wife. Following the success of the MTV series The Osbournes (which chronicled the day-to-day life of her family) and the talent shows The X-Factor and America’s Got Talent (in which she was as a judge), Sharon has established her own identity as a feisty and outspoken media personality.
In her autobiography, Extreme, the matriarch of the Osbourne clan offers a no-holds-barred narrative of the ups and downs in her life while providing a glimpse into the inner workings of the music industry. The book, which was crowned as ‘The Biography of the Year’ at the 2006 British Book Awards, starts off with the standard disclaimer, with the author declaring in the very first paragraph of the first chapter that this is simply her version of events based on her own memories. “I cannot say this is how it happened,” she writes. “I can only say this is how it seemed to me at the time.”
What follows is a candid look at her life, with Sharon sharing tales of growing up in the Arden household, her father’s dubious business dealings, her strained relationship with her parents, working as a music manager, her tumultuous marriage to Ozzy (including dealing with his addictions, infidelity, and abuse, while managing his career), her weight issues and surviving cancer. She herself doesn’t always end up in a flattering light — her behaviour is often less than endearing, and her criticism of others and her own actions/choices can be contradictory. However, overall, the narrative comes together to explain how she became the person she is, and even if you don’t admire her, you can’t help but admire her resilience.
Extreme offers tales of everything from family strife to celebrity excess and bad behaviour. Sharon talks about things that would make an average person blush; in fact, many will find her profanity-laden style unsuitable and offensive. The book is blunt, crude and disturbing; yet it is downright fascinating. You don’t have to be a Sharon Osbourne fan to find the contents of the biography interesting; even if you know nothing about her, you are likely to be fascinated (and disturbed in equal parts) by what you read.
Ultimately, Extreme provides a raw narrative of the events and people that shaped the life and personality of an eccentric music-business insider, and those who enjoy reading biographies and are not put off by crudity and strong language, are likely to find Extreme an interesting read.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 9th, 2011.
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