Christopher Ciccone's account of his years with big sister Madonna reads kind of like a radio single.
The verses are a little muffled, the greater message is slightly unclear, but the chorus is just catchy enough to keep audiences coming back for more. In Ciccone's memoir, "Life with My Sister Madonna," that chorus tells of an ascent into, and exclusion from, fame's outer perimeters. Spiked, of course, with a dose of family ties.
That's a short summary of Madonna's younger brother's book — a first-person effort in which Christopher Ciccone tells how he went from being Madonna's right-hand man to virtually severing ties with his sister.
It's a rift he says was driven largely by financial arguments, as well as smaller (and more tabloid-friendly) elements like his tension with Madonna's husband, Guy Ritchie.
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From the book's onset, the strained brother/sister relationship seems almost inevitable. What's more fascinating is the extent to which Ciccone claims he was once involved in Madonna's life.
The siblings, confronted with their mother's death early in life, bonded when a teenage Madonna asks Christopher to take ballet class with her.
From there, her brother became a key part of her life as an entertainer — joining her in pre-concert exercise and reaffirmation, as well as taking on practical duties associated with her live performances.
But as he relates those experiences, they are repeatedly clouded by disclaimers, sentences that question Madonna's motives in even the earliest stages of the siblings' relationship.
Ciccone even suggests that Madonna's decision to invite him to ballet class was driven by her desire to appease the instructor by adding a sole male dancer to the class.
"As I grow older and wiser, I learn that Madonna always has her eye on the main chance. No matter how potent the spell she casts over me, no matter how generous the gifts — there is always a string in the tail, always a but...," Ciccone writes.
It's tough to come away from Ciccone's memoir with an altered opinion of his pop star sister. If anything, the book is more reflective the identity struggles that so often confront those related to celebrities.
"Through it all, I've often kicked against the fact that my name, my reputation, and my entire identity are inextricably linked to Madonna's. Now, though, with the passing of time, through therapy and the writing of this book, I have come to terms with the truth that I can never escape that reality," Ciccone writes.
Yes, Ciccone's story adds some possible details to an enigmatic celebrity's life, but it also reinforces money's power to destroy relationships.
And even if you can't get its juicy gossip choruses out of your head, there's a good chance you'll still come away from the book feeling, well, a little out of tune.