Neil Young attends 'Neil Young Life' Premiere at Princess of Wales during the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 2011 in Toronto, Canada. Photograph by: Peter Bregg/Getty Images
By Ben Kaplan
News that Neil Young would be penning his autobiography took the Canadian book world by storm Tuesday. Hot on the heels of the bestselling Life by Keith Richards, Young’s autobiography might be the only Canadian rock memoir to present any kind of sales rival to the skull ring-wearing Rolling Stone.
“A memoir coming from Neil Young – if, in fact, he’s written it, he’s honest, he can write, he has a good editor and lots of photos – will sell tons,” says Jack David, publisher of ECW Press, a 37-year-old Canadian publishing house that specializes in pop-culture books, including a memoir from Rush drummer Neil Peart. “We turn down two celebrity memoirs for each one that we publish because either they can’t write, their story isn’t interesting or else they aren’t willing to be honest. Keith’s book did all those things, and we have to expect the same from Neil.”
“Uncle Neil” has already been featured on the pages of a book, most famously in James McDonough’s 2002 biography Shakey, which included in-depth interviews with Young, his family and friends. Although Young, the Toronto-born son of legendary sports writer Scott Young, agreed to McDonough’s biography, the men had a falling out that ended in court and the tome was shelved for three years.
Young’s new book, tentatively titled Waging Heavy Peace and expected to be published in 2012 by Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin, is touted as being written solely by the iconoclastic rock star. (Signing Young to a publishing deal was hailed as a coup by Blue Rider president David Rosenthal, who recently secured a similar publishing deal with Dylan.)
“I started and kept going,” Young said in a news release. “I felt like writing books fit me like a glove.”