I stumbled onto this book at Midtown Comics (getting my X-Files Season 10 fix, if you must know) and boy is it weird and delightful. At first I was th...moreI stumbled onto this book at Midtown Comics (getting my X-Files Season 10 fix, if you must know) and boy is it weird and delightful. At first I was thinking, "oh, this is going to be a sort of Neil-Gaiman-meets-Lewis-Carroll type thing, maybe even a bit Harry Potteresque," but I am pleased to tell you that it's smarter and funnier and darker than all of those things. And the ending - !!! Read it!(less)
I read some of the other Goodreads reviews of this book, and, frankly, I'm a little surprised. (Espcially at the book's own proofreader, who gave it a...moreI read some of the other Goodreads reviews of this book, and, frankly, I'm a little surprised. (Espcially at the book's own proofreader, who gave it a negative review. Isn't that a conflict of interest? Bad business ethics? Talking smack in a public forum about a product put out by a company that also signs your checks? Eh, freelancers.) Yes, I can see how this isn't a book for everyone - it's a dystopia, not a utopia. Probably not headed for a happy ending, here. But it's imaginative and well-written - one of my favorite sentences is, simply: "I kicked my boot heel against the rock and knocked free the pressed tread of snow." Economical, poetic, evocative. "Meeks" is full of just this sort of precise, eloquent detail. And yes, it's somewhat Kafka-esque, with shades of Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. LeGuin, too. In all honesty, I picked this up because the author's brother-in-law is one of my boyfriend's best friends, and I figured I'd better have something to comment on if we all ended up at a shindig together. But I kept reading because it's damn good. Color me impressed.(less)
This is right up there with "Please Kill Me" and "The True Adventures of The Rolling Stones" as one of those foundational rocknroll books with a "You...moreThis is right up there with "Please Kill Me" and "The True Adventures of The Rolling Stones" as one of those foundational rocknroll books with a "You Are There" feeling throughout. Basically, if you were under the impression that punk died when Mick Jones got kicked out of The Clash and wasn't revived until Nirvana released Nevermind, do yourself a favor and read this book. Yes, there are a few omissions (okay, just one that kind of sticks out in my mind. Meat Puppets. They're mentioned several times, but don't merit their own chapter) but overall this is a great way to learn about a lot of bands you don't know, or learn more about bands you thought you knew all about. The way the book is constructed forms a roughly chronological timeline, with bands and labels dovetailing neatly into each others' stories. I like Azerrad's decision to omit some of the bigger bands, like REM and The Pixies, and to end each chapter when the band either broke up or signed to a major label. Also, it's really inspiring, even to an old fogey like me. If I had read this book when I was 18, I probably would have started my own record label. But, thankfully, I read it as a nearing-middle-ager who already tried that whole "get in the van!" thing, so I just came home from work and put on some Dinosaur Jr and Minutemen albums instead. But if I knew an 18-year-old who had aspirations of being in a band, or starting their own label, or what have you, this is the book I'd put in their clammy little hands. Go forth, youngsters, and scream your little hearts out!(less)
In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I've known this author since we were fourteen years old. I should also tell you that I read...moreIn the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I've known this author since we were fourteen years old. I should also tell you that I read this book twice in manuscript form, and that did not deter me one second from devouring it whole once it was published. Bone Worship is at once heartbreaking and hilarious. Parents and child sling barbs, trade snark, but at their core, there is love - that deep love that parents and children cannot help but have for one another, despite failing each other again and again. It's that deep love which keeps us connected, parent and child, even when we stumble, and this book investigates that love, turning it over and over until it is as well worn as the worshipped bones of the title. So, yes, I am the proud, cheek-pinching auntie, the friend at the sidelines cheering and waving obnoxious homemade dayglo posters of encouragement, but I am also not fucking around for one itty bitty second when I tell you that this is a fantastic book and I don't know why you aren't reading it right now.(less)
Though I eventually devoured every book in this series, this was the first one I read. I loved these books as a kid - I loved that they didn't feel li...moreThough I eventually devoured every book in this series, this was the first one I read. I loved these books as a kid - I loved that they didn't feel like books for kids at all. They seemed like "real" books - as opposed to, say, Baby Sitters Club. I love what an odd, believable character Dicey is, that she's a tomboy with a mothering instinct who wants to build boats. These books broke my heart again and again (and I did re-read them all several times.) I love the way the entire series is written, with occasional spotlights thrown on supporting characters. Such a rich world, I almost belive I was there. (less)
Lately I find myself baffled by the hyperbolic responses of my female friends and relations to the book (now Julia Roberts vehicle) Eat, Pray, Love. H...moreLately I find myself baffled by the hyperbolic responses of my female friends and relations to the book (now Julia Roberts vehicle) Eat, Pray, Love. However, after hearing some of their descriptions of said narrative, I get the sense that the comforting notion of finding some vestige of spirituality in this earthly realm is comparable to the feeling I get from reading Sam Shepard. In my case, substitute "West Texas" for "Bali" and "driving a Chevrolet Impala through the Chihuahua Desert" for "eating your way through Tuscany at sunset." I confess, I'm not anywhere near Mr. Shepard's target demographic, but being unaccounted for on the marketing bar graph hasn't kept me from buying all these late-period Lou Reed albums, either. I don't ride horses, write plays, drink hard liquor, or date movie stars, but I heartily endorse this book. In fact, one of the pieces in this collection, entitled "Chatter," is currently taped to the wall above my writing desk. It concerns the protagonist's inability to focus, and the difficulty of finding some quiet space in the mind. My favorite lines are these: "I have no idea what it's really like with other people. Actually, I have no idea what it's really like with me, when you get right down to it." Here, substitute "understated realization of emotional truth" for "fucking some Spaniard at an ashram."(less)
You know how some people talk about books as being their friends? This one always feels like a good buddy I haven't seen in years. Best memory: the fi...moreYou know how some people talk about books as being their friends? This one always feels like a good buddy I haven't seen in years. Best memory: the first time I read it, sitting in the basement of the library at NCSA. Coming upstairs feeling like I'd been somewhere. (less)
Another full-disclosure review: I am, and have been for many years, a huge fan of Patti Smith. I've seen her eight or nine times in concert, bought al...moreAnother full-disclosure review: I am, and have been for many years, a huge fan of Patti Smith. I've seen her eight or nine times in concert, bought all the albums, scavenged used stores for out-of-print poetry volumes, etcetera. Her liner notes were instrumental in shaping my artistic worldview, as I rushed to the library to study those she name-dropped, from Rimbaud to Brancusi to Edie Sedgwick. I bought Television albums because Tom Verlaine played guitar on "Break it Up" and I dug Sam Shepard plays out of the basement stacks because I read somewhere that they'd co-written something called "Cowboy Mouth." That said, I had little-to-no confidence in Ms. Smith's ability to write a cohesive non-fiction narrative. Sorry, Patti - I'm happy to admit that I was dead wrong. Despite the fact that the book tapers to a close just as PS & band are reaching their highest heights, "Just Kids" does not disappoint. It's a beautiful, evocative memoir that conveys beautifully those wide-eyed, ecstatic moments of artistic discovery and adventure that, sadly, grow fewer and further apart as we become jaded with age. It is also a lovely portrait of her partner-in-crime, Robert Mapplethorpe, and his evolution from struggling collage artist to reknowned photographer. (In fact, he is, in a way, the main character, more so than Patti herself.) From the back room at Max's to the lobby of the Chelsea Hotel, "Just Kids" delicately evokes a (sadly, disappeared) bohemian era without descending into self-pitying (or self-aggrandizing) nostalgia or lionizing the excess. If I were some highfalutin NYT reviewer, this is the part where I'd say "Tender...touching...a triumph" and they'd pull my quote for the paperback edition. But it's just me on goodreads, so I'll just say well done, Patti. Right on.(less)
Okay. Let's talk about Fleetwood by Mick Fleetwood. Frankly, I love all the incarnations of this band, though the later excesses are pretty impossible...moreOkay. Let's talk about Fleetwood by Mick Fleetwood. Frankly, I love all the incarnations of this band, though the later excesses are pretty impossible to reconcile. (If you're like me, hearing Mick Fleetwood try to rationalize spending gobs of money on having Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks' hotel rooms completely redone - meaning painted pink and having a white piano moved in - before their arrival in every city on every tour will make you wanna slap somebody upside the head with a copy of Get In The Van. I mean, seriously, ladies, beige walls at the Sheraton just too much for you to bear? But I digress.) The first half of this book is pretty fascinating stuff if you're into the 60s London scene at all, though, okay, it's no White Bicycles. I'd love to read a more objective/in-depth account of the Peter Green/Jeremy Spencer/Danny Kirwan years, not to mention the Bob Welch era, which I think is really underrated. (Seriously, Future Games. Hot damn.) Still, if you're one of those people who thinks that FM went straight from being a trad blues band to falling under Stevie Nicks' witchcraft spell and becoming the titans of soft-rock overnight, you might find the "lean years" quite enlightening.
The second half gets into all the queasy, sleazy details of the Fleetwood Mac your mother knows and loves. I'd heard a lot of these tales and was still fairly agog, especially with Mick's weird forays into psychotic groupie territory (and boy did I never need to hear the term "veal viper." Ever.) I wish there was more music-nerd stuff about the actual recording of the albums, but this isn't that type of book. Favorite anecdote: Lindsey Buckingham gets drunk during a show on the Tusk tour and starts openly mocking Stevie's dance moves on stage. After the show, Christine McVie bitch-slaps him, throws a drink in his face, and warns him not to ever make this band look foolish again. Considering this book was written right after Lindsey left the band, he's treated fairly respectfully throughout, even when he doesn't necessarily deserve it. (Second favorite anecdote: the late-80s "breakup meeting" where Lindsey's whining about not being appreciated despite being the mastermind of the band was met with Christine reminding him matter-of-factly that, except for "Gypsy" and "Big Love," all of FM's big 80s hits were her songs. Which is true! Dammit, I want a Christine McVie autobiography and I want it now.)
Overall: If you don't mind a narrator who's made and lost obscene amounts of money and thinks he's completely entitled to all of the excesses that fame has afforded him and his band (for example: Mick buys a new Rolex for several thousand dollars, and, a few weeks later, during a moment of "enlightenment" in Africa, seeing that the people around him don't need that much to be happy, he smashes it to pieces.) then by all means, dig right in. If you consider yourself to be one of the 99%, you might want to have a hot shower and a copy of a Ramones record at the ready while you read it, just to cleanse yourself of all the bad Hell-a record biz juju.
(Or Future Games. Seriously. That album is awesome.)
(...Aaaand I think this is the most I've written about any book on Goodreads except for Infinite Jest. Frankly, I'm a little appalled at myself right now.) (less)
Far more philosophical than any movie novelization has any right to be, but this is no ordinary movie (or novelization, for that matter.) Renders the...more Far more philosophical than any movie novelization has any right to be, but this is no ordinary movie (or novelization, for that matter.) Renders the world of Buckaroo Banzai in even more startling dimension (there's eight of em, ya know) than the movie. Earl Mac Rauch is a blinding bloody genius. If you're a fan of martial arts, rock and roll, espionage, alien invasions, cowboys, and particle physics, this book's for you. (less)
So, my friend Karalyn pressed this on me, and I thought, despite the fact that this is a book about a southerner in New York, and here I am, a souther...moreSo, my friend Karalyn pressed this on me, and I thought, despite the fact that this is a book about a southerner in New York, and here I am, a southerner in New York, I'm only reading this to be polite. But imagine my surprise when I found cynical self enjoying the damn thing. See, here's the deal. Karalyn and I went to high school together, and now we live twenty blocks apart. Here are two interesting anecdotes about our upbrining. The first: So there I was in the lunch line. Lunch was green beans with almond slivers and pecan-encrusted trout. Wow, thought I, what a meal! Just as I was receiving my insanely decadent school lunch, one of my classmates behind me in line rolled her eyes audibly (I swear) and proclaimed that this was the exact thing they just had at so-and-so's debutante party that weekend. It was the same catering company; we urchins were getting debutante leftovers. No wonder Monday lunches were always so good. But I never would have known that had it not been explained to me, because I was decidedly not a deb. Second anecdote: There's this thing called the JDA. Junior Dance Association. They have invite-only dances every weekend - it's a training ground for future junior leaguers. Recently, Karalyn told me that she desperately wanted to join, but, despite having a big-wheel father who worked with one of the head JDA board members, she wasn't allowed, because she lived in Gaffney, and JDA was a Spartanburg thing. Needless to say, I thought the JDA was a load of horseshit then, and I think it's an even bigger load of horseshit now.
Which brings us to the surprising fact that I liked this book, despite the author announcing herself as a debutante-hipster (perish the thought!) from the outset. It's well-written, and, hell, I can't give anybody low marks who has Guided By Voices on their iPod. So, if you're looking for it, here's written proof that not every southerner dies on the vine here in NYC. At this point, I'll take any inspiring glimmer of hope I can get.(less)
I first heard about this book in the laundromat. There were a bunch of irate Long Island mothers on the teevee screeching at the 6 o'clock news, outra...moreI first heard about this book in the laundromat. There were a bunch of irate Long Island mothers on the teevee screeching at the 6 o'clock news, outraged that this perverted little book was on a suggested summer reading list for their precious ickle kiddies. I figured that what with all the terrible things teenagers get up to these days, this book must be really awful and pervy to end up on the evening news.
Anyway, that was about a year ago. When I saw this book at the library yesterday, all those irate moms popped into my head again, and my curiosity got the better of me. Needless to say, this is a beautiful, quirky little tale about an alienated outsider coming of age, trying to make heads and tails of high school after his best friend commits suicide. It's full of heart and morality, and, as this is a book about a person on the verge of an adult world, happens to mention oral sex and marijuana a couple of times. It also features a homosexual couple, big wow. Though I found the ending a bit abrupt, I found this book graceful and engaging and not nearly as offensive as the Concerned Mothers of the Tri-State Area would have us believe.
(But I bet all that hullaballoo sold a lot of copies!) (less)
I probably came into this book with unrealistically high expectations. I love Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Liked Two Lane Blacktop a whole darn lot,...moreI probably came into this book with unrealistically high expectations. I love Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. Liked Two Lane Blacktop a whole darn lot, though Vanishing Point is my favorite existential automotive 70s movie. And I'd heard that this book was mindblowingly amazing. But, except for a few brief flickers, I couldn't really hook into the main character at all. Which is I guess the point. But it was hard to relate to a character with no center. Or a character with a center but no edges.
Also, not to be all feministy about it or anything, but practically every time a woman appeared in this book, she was instantly jumping on this guy's dick. Pardon my French. And I know it was the free love era. But come on.(less)
I hate to break it to you, but the great Beat writer on-the-road adventure may be just as full of numbing mindless cycles as your fine upstanding 9-to...moreI hate to break it to you, but the great Beat writer on-the-road adventure may be just as full of numbing mindless cycles as your fine upstanding 9-to-5. Don't worry, kids - Uncle Poe will let you down easy. You know all those book reviews that say "hilarious and heartbreaking"? This book actually is both hilarious and heartbreaking. The title essay will tear your heart out and stomp that sucker flat and then you will probably move to Mexico. And why not? This book actually made me laugh out loud on the bus. And then I almost cried. (less)