• The History of Bones

  • A Memoir
  • By: John Lurie
  • Narrated by: John Lurie
  • Length: 15 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (127 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The quintessential depiction of 1980s New York and the downtown scene from the artist, actor, musician, and composer John Lurie

“A picaresque roller coaster of a story, with staggering amounts of sex and drugs and the perpetual quest to retain some kind of artistic integrity.” (The New York Times)

In the tornado that was downtown New York in the 1980s, John Lurie stood at the vortex. After founding the band The Lounge Lizards with his brother, Evan, in 1979, Lurie quickly became a centrifugal figure in the world of outsider artists, cutting-edge filmmakers, and cultural rebels. Now Lurie vibrantly brings to life the whole wash of 1980s New York as he developed his artistic soul over the course of the decade and came into orbit with all the prominent artists of that time and place, including Andy Warhol, Debbie Harry, Boris Policeband, and, especially, Jean-Michel Basquiat, the enigmatic prodigy who spent a year sleeping on the floor of Lurie’s East Third Street apartment. 

It may feel like Disney World now, but in The History of Bones, the East Village, through Lurie’s clear-eyed reminiscence, comes to teeming, gritty life. The book is full of grime and frank humor — Lurie holds nothing back in this journey to one of the most significant moments in our cultural history, one whose reverberations are still strongly felt today. 

History may repeat itself, but the way downtown New York happened in the 1980s will never happen again. Luckily, through this beautiful memoir, we all have a front-row seat.

©2021 John Lurie (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"There is a purity to John Lurie’s writing that feels almost spiritual - the stories unspool from him, seemingly effortlessly, with the fluidity of a great jazz player. Lurie has lived many lives - ‘More than once I have witnessed the inexplicable,’ he tells us - and this book moves us through them all.” (Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City)

“No other human’s strange struggles and triumphs are like this. I was transfixed reading Lurie’s yearning to make sense of it all, slamming his fist through the precious veneer of the early eighties New York art/music scene. Yeeeooooow.” (Flea, author of Acid for the Children

“Look behind John Lurie’s adventure so far and see how it flows from epiphanies: their arrival, their loss, the very possibility of them. Epiphanies consign an artist to life as a hunter-mystic, in a world where the impeccable and the tawdry are equally sacred - a hell of a place, and it’s from here that Lurie’s candor throws us epiphanies to take away. This is not a book headed for bookshelves; it’s coming to crash on your couch.” (DBC Pierre, author of Vernon God Little, winner of the Booker Prize) 

What listeners say about The History of Bones

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Perfect, earnest; a gift of involuntary belly laughs.

I have been fascinated by Mr. Lurie since listening to his episode of WTF with Marc Maron several years ago. Everything I learned about him through the regular media channels was either misconstrued or purposely misleading. He’s written one of the most beautifully human, and earnest Memoirs I have read, my favorites being Anthony Bourdain’s, Nick Nolte, and Norm Macdonald. A writer reading their own work is so important it can’t be overstated. He’s a great narrator. If you’re at all interested in real human beings; you’ll enjoy this memoir immensely.

5 people found this helpful

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Riveting…Brilliant…

What a gift, that Laurie himself narrated this mesmerizing account…
I discovered him only recently through “Painting with John” (equally riveting) and am basically following him backwards… This recording is so good, I bought a hard copy as well… lately, when I paint, l listen to his music…. Frankly, I’m a little amazed (and envious) of this fellow’s ability to weave through drugs, chaos, betrayal, Lyme and various other afflictions and STILL make great ART….
Bless you John Lurie, you are an inspiration and a gift…

4 people found this helpful

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I used to like him.

Man. What a total letdown. As a very long time Lurie fan, this might have just ended the affair. His woe-is-me, everything happens to me attitude wears thin after the 20th or so time that he was the unwitting victim of someone else’s actions. Makes you wonder if he’s full of shit or just incredibly stupid - both bad choices.

The book’s filler comes in the form of misogyny and drug binges, neither of which he seems to have any control over or ability to write about with any redeeming quality. How/why he avoids Lyme disease entirely and mentions cancer for less than 10 seconds in a book that contains hours of Basquiat-centered humble brags and vindictive, one-sided tear downs of peers and “friends” shows where his mind is.

Overall, the tone of the read suggests that he is an underdog and unsung hero, the man behind many curtains, an influencer of greats, a victim of circumstance, a road warrior, a seeker of truths, a lover of women and the soul of music… but the content tells the fractionalized story of a man who never achieved any real success or made his way in from the periphery of greatness as the result of his own ego. Oh well.

3 people found this helpful

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Just Get It

In short - Lurie delivers exactly what you’d hope for.
In long - I’ve been a Lounge Lizards fan for a long time after stumbling on The Queen Of All Ears years ago. He does a great job of tying the music in together with his other work, which I was certainly aware of, but which I mostly passed up in favor of the records and art.
Lurie might have a rep in the media/entertainment industry as a difficult person, but he also has a body of work to back up everything he says. He fires back on anyone who he felt wronged him, and why pull punches anyway? Nobody wants to read about about nice boys getting along with everybody.
I’m an active musician, and I actually appreciate that he lays out how much work something like that takes. He seemed to be able to fall into movies and celebrity easily enough - maybe an oversimplification, who knows how all that shit works - but you get a real feel for the sort of work it takes to develop that sort of musicianship. He didn’t just happen into that, he made it happen with work and sweat and good and bad decisions, and he wrote about it in a way that would get me to put down this audiobook at times to go practice or check out a record or musician I was just reading about. To me, that is the biggest mark of the success when it comes to writing about music. Try reading Nick Tosches’ Unsung Heroes Of Rock ‘n Roll without running to YouTube to listen to every unheard gem you’re being introduced to on every page. If it doesn’t illicit that sort of response in you, we either don’t see eye to eye or you should be doing something else.
I wouldn’t really compare this one to Ribot’s recently released book as they are two very different works by two different people, but personally I’d start with this one and then move on to the other afterwards. If I had to compare them at all: Lurie’s is more similar to Miles Davis’ expansive autobiography, while Ribot’s splits the difference between something like that and then a bunch of sketches that kind of seem like a creative mind working in a different form, rather than something that is framed around a cohesive narrative from start to finish. Ribot’s does offer plenty of concrete details around his life and music, it just goes in other directions.
So if you’re a fan of his work or some nerd into celebrity musician autobiographies, you’ll find what you’re looking for here.

2 people found this helpful

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Amazing Memoir Full of Life and Character

Lurie is an intriguing character. Loved every chapter of this memoir; cannot imagine it being narrated by anyone but the man, himself.

1 person found this helpful

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Hmmmm

Its a long drawn out diary of someone’s ups and downs from an era that was not ready for him. That’s all I got from that whole thing. And thought his opinions were something someone wanted to read I guess.

1 person found this helpful

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Hip Curmudgeon Tells All

This didn't feel like the usual autobiography. I was occasionally thrown by, the stream of consciousness writing of this book. His timeline can jump all around and circle back upon itself repetitively. Much like his music. All life stories are told with a certain bias but more than most I not quite sure he is a reliable narrator. But that is part of the fun and he is certainly engaging.
The book is in turn, compelling, entertaining, and infuriating, As he goes through life feeling expansive, petty and sometimes downright nasty.
I like Lurie's vocally gravelly narration, but I could imagine it might wear on some.

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For everyone

I was always a fan on John, but knew nothing about him. I knew him from movies, and that was it. I loved this book. I have listened to it twice now and am about to again. John's life has been insane, to say the least. He is a true artist, the type of person society seems to squelch, even in these modern times. I'm glad he finally has a voice of his own here and love this book so much. We love you John Lurie!

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lounge around with lurie

John Lurie winds his way improvisationally through stories across his lifetime and several careers. some stories and insights are remarkable. some are okay. there's quite a bit of resentment sprinkled throughout, especially at Jim Jarmusch. but maybe that guy deserves it. and it doesn't ruin the whole.

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Genuinely broken and beautiful, as we all are

Twisted and honest, funny and irreverent but cool beyond measure. I really appreciate the candid perspective and depth of how the world shaped him, what a ride!!!

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  • Kindle Reader
  • 04-17-22

A must read for anyone who knows anything about anything

John Lurie narrates a life of mistakes, misfortune, success and sex. Names a dropped and stories are divulged, long live the lizard.

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  • Mr J A W T Kent
  • 12-04-21

Great listen...

I didn't know about John Laurie, and can't remember what made me want to give this audiobook a go... REALLY glad I did though, life in NYC when it was the place to be.

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  • Peter
  • 10-06-21

Excellent!

One of the best memoirs I’ve read. John’s had such a rich and varied life and career. Lots of humour, sex, drugs, highs and lows. Very entertaining.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-26-21

Driving with John

Listened to this on a long drive, couldn't ask for a better companion x x x