I cop to the genius effusions. But it’s what I believe!
“Smith’s violent death in 2003 cemented the still-enduring popular concept of the tortured artist and Smith as one who crafted songs of intense self-reflection and beauty. Here Schultz (An Emergency in Slow Motion: The Inner Life of Diane Arbus) provides plenty of details about Smith’s downfall but also seeks to show a fuller picture by exploring his upbringing in Texas, intellectual influences, and development as a songwriter. Schultz isn’t shy about labeling Smith as a genius, and, as a result, is at times overly florid and effusive in praise. Yet he remains persuasive in describing how Smith’s sensitivity, honesty, and artistic drive had an uncommon effect upon those around him, even as he battled with drug addiction and memories of emotional abuse that occurred when he was a child. Even better is Schultz’s analysis of Smith’s lyrics and music, which establishes common threads and exposes surprises across the songwriter’s body of work. The result is an admirably well-written biography with much to offer.”