Exhausting memoir soaked in bodily fluids from warmhearted showbiz vulgarian Osbourne.

Exhausting memoir soaked in bodily fluids from warmhearted showbiz vulgarian Osbourne.

The wife of madman rocker Ozzy relates her turbulent life story in chummy, "ain't-I-a-stitch" prose that is in equal parts endearing and embarrassing. The daughter of prominent London music executive (and alleged organized-crime figure) Don Arden, Sharon became inured at an early age to all manner of debauchery, violence and domestic chaos. (This would come in handy later.)

Bullied and manipulated by her father in a series of shady financial schemes, the hapless young woman careened between London and Los Angeles in a haze of alcohol and binge-eating, cultivating a shrill fishwife persona along the way. So far, so dreary.

Then Sharon's friendship with the similarly gormless Ozzy Osbourne, a pathetic, clownish figure hopelessly addicted to drugs and alcohol and held in contempt by his Black Sabbath bandmates, blossomed into an apocalyptic romance characterized by domestic violence (including a murder attempt), paranoia, failed stints in rehab and a devotion to fecal-matter-themed pranks.

The storied business meeting in which her man orally decapitated a dove before horrified executives is presented here as just another crazy day in Ozzyland; Sharon's reaction to the stunt was hysterical laughter, which provides a useful indication of her authorial sensibilities.

Some of the charm found in The Osbournes MTV series is evident—amid all the squalor and noise, the family displays palpable love and affection—but the TV show had the virtue of clever editing. Here, Sharon's compulsive purchases of dogs, jewelry and houses; her screaming fights with just about everybody; her myriad tragic illnesses and injuries; and her relentless profanity pile up into an undifferentiated mass of bad behavior and grim circumstances.

Reading this messy memoir is like being stuck on a long bus ride with a repellent yet fitfully compelling seatmate; the journey is diverting in a way, but you're relieved when it's over.

A life of noisy desperation, vomited up con brio. (52 b&w and color photos throughout)