A frequently enigmatic, guarded icon, Mariah Carey will offer fans more insight into who she is through her memoir, out Sept. 29. In The Meaning of Mariah Carey, the icon lays bare details of some of her most intimate histories, including her traumatic marriage to former Sony executive Tommy Mottola, for one.
Carey was in her 20s and Mottola in his 40s when they married in 1993.
He apologized in 2013, admitting in his own memoir that he was “controlling” and “obsessive.” Still, he attributed those abuses to being part of her success, and blamed his role as chairman of Sony as the cause.
“Carey writes that their ensuing marriage effectively imprisoned her…Sing Sing was her name for their sprawling estate in upstate New York,” the Los Angeles Times reports in its review of Carey’s memoir, “…which Mottola decked out with security cameras and armed guards. Carey recounts Mottola’s constant surveillance, controlling nature, and ‘unpredictable’ rage. She writes that he held a butter knife to her face in front of a group of guests at their home, furious over her desire to break things off.”
Based on Carey’s recent, candid interview with Oprah Winfrey, the media reports that revenge was a driving force for the tell-all nature of her memoir. But exposing those who’ve seriously wronged her–they have “drawn blood first,” she tells Winfrey –seems more like finally living her truth rather than bitter reprisal. Maybe these stories are about shedding pretense and helping fans understand why she’s felt a need to control so closely her public persona.
“I wouldn’t have gone here if things hadn’t been done to me, if I hadn’t been dragged by certain people and treated as an ATM machine with a wig on,” Carey tells Oprah.
In the book she discusses how her ‘90s affair with Derek Jeter was a “catalyst” to her separation from Mottola, and that she wrote “The Roof” and “My All” about the 5-year romance. In the latter, the line “I’d risk my life to feel/ Your body next to mine” directly refers to a secret, short getaway to Puerto Rico.
Carey is often portrayed by media and fans as petty or high-maintenance. It’s part of her charm, in a way: “I don’t know her” will forever be iconic. But is summarizing her in this way fair? Or are these cheap descriptors a result of internalized misogyny, used to demean a self-willed, massively successful woman?
Even if there is some satisfaction for Carey in calling out certain culprits, let’s not fall into the trap of calling this a “revenge” memoir. There is always a selfless aspect to sharing personal trauma; someone will read her stories and feel less alone, at the very least. And the title of the book alone tells us that she wants us to better know her own story; the people who’ve wronged her deserve only a bit part in having shaped who she is.