I picked this book up in a thrift store because of the title, which is I suppose the point of stating that Metallica came to church. I had never heardI picked this book up in a thrift store because of the title, which is I suppose the point of stating that Metallica came to church. I had never heard of John van Sloten or New Hope Church in Calgary, but I soon found myself captivated by his journey not only through Metallica but in navigating how to reconcile Christ with the creation and culture around him. van Sloten's stories of preaching about the paintings of Vincent van Gogh, the music of Bach, or contemporary films such as Crash, No Country for Old Men, or The Dark Knight are nothing new for churches - in fact it almost seems cliché after the past fifteen years - but the way he presents and discusses his methodology in working through these various media does present something new.
The main idea that I appreciated was the idea that Christ and creation/culture (ie. the world and what is in it) work together in a relationship of co-illumination and counterbalance - they actually help us to understand the other and cannot exist on their own. It's a provocative idea, but one that resonates deeply with me, and van Sloten presents it as clearly as I've ever heard it told. This is a must-read for anyone who is wondering how to reconcile Christ and culture, particularly the idea of how Christ transforms culture (to use Niebuhr's designation), and what it means to encounter Christ through anything in our world....more
The 33 1/3 series of books each analyze an album in its entirety and comment on its cultural and artistic significance - in this case, Washington poetThe 33 1/3 series of books each analyze an album in its entirety and comment on its cultural and artistic significance - in this case, Washington poet Tony Tost plumbs the depths of Johnny Cash's 1994 American Recordings in regard to the place that Cash's late career resurgence has within establishing the legacy of the Cash mythos. Tost thoroughly examines each track, its history, and many of the themes and images that Cash developed throughout his career. Tost's essays are thoughtful, well-researched, and well-argued, and his understanding of the Cash canon and mythos are impressive, leaving the reader with meaningful insight into various aspects of the album and how it both encompasses and defies who Cash is. Tost is occasionally a little abstruse and abstract, and his points occasionally get lost in deviations that seem more poetic than expository in nature, but I suppose that is part of the appeal of having a poet write a book like this. As a fan of Cash, particularly of the American series, I felt as though Tost mostly nailed the spirit and letter of the album and of how it fits into Cash's career, even though I would have liked to have had more of a deliberate thesis and conclusion to his discussion. It's still a worthwhile read for fans of Cash and particularly of this album and the American series, and I look forward to reading more books from this series....more
I really enjoy most music memoirs, and Jian Ghomeshi's 1982 is no different. Ghomeshi explores a variety of subjects, including race, sexuality, populI really enjoy most music memoirs, and Jian Ghomeshi's 1982 is no different. Ghomeshi explores a variety of subjects, including race, sexuality, popularity, music, conformity, creativity, and suburban life all through the lens of his 14-year-old self. He relates stories that happened to him in 1982 that helped shape him in what he calls the most formative year of his life. His stories are refreshingly honest and open, and they are often hilarious in their nerdy awkwardness. His prose occasionally feels a little stilted, as he is prone to repeating information or describing scenarios ad nauseam, but it never really interferes with the content of the stories. It's a stylistic choice that's meant to accent the immaturity of his 14-year-old subject or that comes from his style as a radio host; at times, it is very entertaining, but it doesn't always work - a minor issue to be sure, but still an issue. 1982 is an entertaining account for anyone who wants to read a music fan's coming-of-age story, anyone who has nostalgia for early '80s New Wave, and anyone who has tried to navigate the troubled waters of suburbia, especially in Canada....more
Telegraph Avenue is the story of two families living in Oakland, California who run two small businesses together in the summer of 2004: the husbandsTelegraph Avenue is the story of two families living in Oakland, California who run two small businesses together in the summer of 2004: the husbands run a record store and the wives a midwifery business. The two couples, along with their children, are part of a wide cast of characters richly imagined by Chabon, who has a penchant for crafting (over-)detailed environments and scenarios. Chabon's cast of characters is rich and wide, as over two dozen characters are given meaningful descriptions and back stories, and his effort in doing so is impressive in itself. I do think, however, that the level of description here often becomes cumbersome and kind of meaningless, and that the exploration of the themes therein gets lost in the sheer careering volume of the text. Chabon is trying to address a lot of contemporary issues - health care, economic disparity, racial tension, corporate capitalism, absentee fathers, music industry, teen sexuality - but he does not really say much about any of them; he just lets them sit. People have described this as a kind of modern American Middlemarch, and though I understand the comparison, I don't see that Telegraph Avenue has the kind of resonance necessary to justify it. Moreover, the way in which several of the storylines end up (or apparently don't) is at best unsatisfying, given the amount of energy Chabon has put in to establishing a certain depth of character and environment; it almost seemed like he got to the point at which he just had to finish the book and get it out of his system, which is more or less how I felt about two-thirds of the way through reading it. I'm not disappointed I read it, but I would not read it again; I do think, however, that this will make a fantastic movie given the right director, as I think that all of the characters would translate well to film. Can we get the Coen brothers on this after they finish filming The Yiddish Policemen's Union?...more
Matthew Paul Turner's honest, self-effacing, and humorous memoir chronicles his journey from childhood in regard to the Christian music industry. He hMatthew Paul Turner's honest, self-effacing, and humorous memoir chronicles his journey from childhood in regard to the Christian music industry. He has included a number of vignettes from various points in his life that help illustrate his journey from an overly sheltered youth through being editor of CCM magazine (and beyond). Unlike some others, Turner manages to tell his stories in a way that demonstrates a level of respect for the industry, and although he uses humour and some sarcasm, he does not come off as embittered. His stories are at times laugh-out-loud funny, and they are all too familiar for anyone who has at any time identified with the Christian music bubble. I'll definitely read his other stories, as well as re-reading this memoir again....more
This was the only book of Klosterman's I had yet to read, and I knew there was a good chance I would love it, since I've thoroughly enjoyed all of hisThis was the only book of Klosterman's I had yet to read, and I knew there was a good chance I would love it, since I've thoroughly enjoyed all of his other books. This was the book that launched his career, and Klosterman combines his unique blend of self-effacing biography, unabashed love for pop culture, and keen mind for analytic deconstruction in this book, a love letter to 80s heavy metal. Chuck's knowledge on the subject is, as it usually is, disconcertingly passionate and pathologically encyclopedic, and readers with even a passing understanding of the genre will find themselves caught up in his world. It takes a certain patience to really enjoy some of his essays, as he tends to meander throughout the course of his arguments, though he always manages to return in a meaningful and often surprising way. Chuck is one of my inspirations as a writer, and I think I will return to some of his other works now that I have finally read FRC....more