I almost abandoned this about 20 or 30 pages in because it started off as just a bunch of happy horseshit about the "phenomenon" of the Grateful DeadI almost abandoned this about 20 or 30 pages in because it started off as just a bunch of happy horseshit about the "phenomenon" of the Grateful Dead and dead shows and deadheads, etc., and like it was written for a sunday newspaper's magazine section to introduce the phenomenon to people who didn't know anything about it. But I'm glad I kept reading because (except for the final chapter--more fluff) it turned into a pretty good and serious history after that, albeit only up to 1983 (when the book was published), which of course was not nearly the end of The Dead.
There's probably not a single fact in here that I didn't know at the height of my Grateful Dead infatuation ca. 1979-1986, but I've since killed lots of brain cells, so it was a good Dead trivia brush-up for me ... who knows when I might be called upon to know some of this!
Finally, it was a nice trip down memory lane hearing about some of these great shows (some of which I still listen to regularly on i-tunes thanks to Dick's Picks). My first Dead show was Halloween 1979 at Nassau Coliseum, and my last was June 16, 1991 at Giants Stadium, and between those two shows, I saw either 25 or 26 more.
At the beginning of my senior year in high school, when I was starting to get the college applications together, I presented a proposal to my parents that I would delay my first year of college by one year in order to follow the Dead around the country for one year (financed completely by myself, of course). My parents only needed to deliberate for about one second before rejecting the proposal. I still occasionally regret that lost opportunity, and probably always will....more
When I finished this and tabulated my ratings of the individual stories, I was surprised to find that it came out to an average per story of only 3.37When I finished this and tabulated my ratings of the individual stories, I was surprised to find that it came out to an average per story of only 3.37. Because I enjoyed so many of these immensely. I guess the aggregate rating was skewed downward by a few stinkers and a few mediocrities.
So I'm giving it 4 stars.
Because I figure, in the big scheme of things, what's the loss if you spend 20 minutes of your life reading a short story that turns out not to be too good, compared to the gain of spending 20 minutes reading a story that might stay with you you forever.
Here's my 1-5 star ratings of the individual stories, for whatever it's worth:
5 stars ------- Jenny The epizootic Hundred-dollar kisses Guardian of the person Girl pool Mr. Z.
4 stars ------- While mortals sleep Money talks
3 stars ------- $10,000 a year, easy The humbugs
2 stars ------- With his hand on the throttle Ruth Out, brief candle Tango
Wow, if you'd told me 4 or 5 days ago that I'd be giving this 4 stars, I wouldn't have believed it. At that point (halfway through) I was very annoyedWow, if you'd told me 4 or 5 days ago that I'd be giving this 4 stars, I wouldn't have believed it. At that point (halfway through) I was very annoyed with this book. Because for every short really great part, there would then be a really long, tiresome, tedious part. So at that point, I was back and forth between 2 stars and 3 stars. But then it got really good around 100 pages from the end (where the Rand-Drinion scene at Meibeyer's begins), and then stayed really good and intense right to the end. But even with that high-note finish, I was still thinking that I would have to give it 3 stars for all of the earlier tedium. But then when I went back to skim over the whole book quickly, page-by-page, a moment or two per page, to see if the earlier sections meant any more to me in retrospect, and to see if I agreed with how the editor had sequenced them, I found myself glad that I had endured all that drivel, and it seemed a lot more essential to the story in retrospect than it did while I was reading it. Then I got really caught up in going back to the sections referred to in the endnotes [DFW's notes to self about character and plot development-- not meant to appear in the finished novel, but inserted there by the editor] and it made the whole thing more interesting ... what he was doing in this book and with these characters.
There were five or six different storylines in here, all of which intersected at some point with one of more of the others. By far my favorite was theThere were five or six different storylines in here, all of which intersected at some point with one of more of the others. By far my favorite was the one about Hod Brackenridge--gold prospector, prizefighter, miner, soldier, entrepreneur. I also liked all the parts about Wilmington, S.C. and the characters from there (Luncefords, Scotts, et al.) All of the action that took place in the West and the Yukon was great. Same with Wilmington and NYC. The military action in Cuba and Philippines I found much less interesting and not much fun to read. So it was kind of annoying every time I was getting really interested in one of the more compelling subplots, suddenly that chapter ends and you're back into the the dreary Philippines campaign for another 50 or 100 pages, or occasionally into one of the other smaller subplots that I found uninteresting, such as the story of Harry Manigault and his work in the early moving picture industry.
So I was between 3 and 4 stars most of the time I was reading this, and around two-thirds of the way through, I decided that I would probably give it 4 stars if this one thing that i really wanted to happen happened, and 3 stars if it didn't. As you can see by my rating, that thing that I wanted to happen did finally happen ... on page 952, the fourth-to-last page of the book.
This was so great. I loved this. It took me 6 weeks to read because I only felt like reading it 10-15 pages at a time, but it was so fun to read, forThis was so great. I loved this. It took me 6 weeks to read because I only felt like reading it 10-15 pages at a time, but it was so fun to read, for lots of reasons. One is that it starts in 1976 and goes right up to Andy's unexpected and sudden death in 1987, and of course those were probably the funnest 12 years of my life, so it's such a fun trip down memory lane ... just the various news events he mentions in passing in his entries, and the songs and bands and celebrities. And Manhattan was really different in 1976 than it is now, and it changed a lot from 1976 to 1987, and you can really feel that here, and remember how it used to be. And Andy's studio (and the offices of his magazine, Interview) were at 860 B'way, just right around the corner from my high school (16th St. bet. 5th and 6th), so the diary starts right off right in my old stomping grounds and while I was still stomping there. Also, the entries are really funny. There's almost no entry where you don't laugh at least once. He's funniest when describing his closest companions, like Bridget Berlin, Bianca Jagger, Halston, Steve Rubell, and a bunch of other people that he ran around with, a lot of whom worked for him in some way or another. ...more