K.D.LANG: All You Get Is Me by Victoria Starr (St. Martin's Press: $22.95; 271 pp.) Conflict is interesting. Everyone has conflict. So it is probably safe to say that singer k.d. lang, along with the rest of us, has had her share of passionate internal struggles. Why, then, is her biography almost completely devoid of any real fear, anger, doubt or even inconvenience? Born in a small town in Canada, k.d. lang (aka Kathy Dawn) knew from childhood that she was destined to be famous. When k.d. was 12, her father abandoned the family with no warning. Victoria Starr writes: "It would be years before Kathy would see her father again, and his disappearance would affect her in ways that would be profound and long-lasting." This is the sort of information that, used right, can give a biography depth and nuance. However, aside from a few other vague references, Starr never mentions these "profound and long-lasting effects" again. Did lang keep her self esteem intact? How? Did such a loss bleed into her adult relationships?
This emotional stonewalling continues though the rest of the book. There are plenty of dramatic sequences, such as lang's frustrating struggle to be accepted in country music, her public stand against meat which alienated many fans, and her coming out as a lesbian in a potentially hostile environment. In spite of such promising material, though,nobody, not lang, not Starr and not even the reader, really gets their hands dirty.
"k.d. lang: All You Get Is Me," is mistitled. In fact, all you get is a quirky paper doll, a disappearing act, a song half heard from the apartment down the hall.