“All through this, I’ve always thought that if you thought of all of it as a book then you have the Great American Novel, every record as a chapter,”
“All through this, I’ve always thought that if you thought of all of it as a book then you have the Great American Novel, every record as a chapter,” he told Rolling Stone in 1987. “They’re all in chronological order. You take the whole thing, stack it and listen to it in order, there’s my Great American Novel.”
I discovered this quote only last night, 27 october 2013. I may have read and forgotten it — it makes so much sense it hardly needs to be stated: there's no doubt Reed's lyrics are his Great American Novel. It also makes sense, perhaps, that a scholar of anglo-american literature should revisit such a book. Pass Through Fire collects all of his verses, published and unpublished, from the VU days to 2000's Ecstasy, in chronological order. As an epitaph of sort to the canonization of this body of work, each record is printed with a different typographical flourish: shades of gray, lenses, stains, verses that go vertical or coil upon themselves or seem to crumble, block letters that tower like skyscrapers. The Italian edition adds an appendix with translations printed in pink.