May 23, 1988 12:00 PM

by Michael Jackson

In case you didn’t realize, Jackson’s autobiography is a 300,000-copy-first-printing big deal; the book’s co-editor Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis notes in a preface that he is “one of the world’s most acclaimed entertainers.” And in case you were wondering how much you’d learn about Jackson in this, his most lengthy public discussion of his life, the answer is, not as much as you might like. Yet, superficial as it is, the book isn’t wholly disappointing. It is most revealing when he talks about the childhood years of pressure and sacrifice involved in being one of the Jackson 5: “There was a park across the street from the Motown studio, and I can remember looking at those kids playing games…and wishing more than anything that I had that kind of freedom.” Michael skims the surface of his romances with Tatum O’Neal and Brooke Shields, conceding a failure in that part of his life in general: “My relationships with girls have not had the happy ending I’ve been looking for.” He discusses, briefly and dutifully, his plastic surgery (he admits to two nose jobs and a chin cleft), his fondness for animals, surgical masks, Liz Taylor and Marlon Brando. He doesn’t go into why he wanted the Elephant Man’s bones, his past obsession with hyperbaric oxygen chambers or his penchant for appearing in public in disguise. The book’s final third deals mostly with song-writing. Somehow this all adds up to a relatively satisfying pop autobiography. Jackson wrote it himself (reportedly helped by two ghostwriters), and it does reflect an entertainer who knows how to measure out the style and the substance, on paper as well as onstage. (Doubleday, $15.95)

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