PositiveThe Washington Post... grandly titled but harrowing ... The book leavens the episodic structure of most autobiographies by threading a family mystery through Straczynski’s account of his horrific upbringing and his escape into superheroes and science fiction ... If this \'What Would Kal-El Do?\' philosophy occasionally makes our narrator come off as self-righteous, let us just be glad that he chose to emulate a virtuous (if imaginary) outsider instead of the violent and cruel adults who populated his most impressionable years ... Straczynski revisits his eclectic resume in breezy, conversational prose ... Straczynski dishes more freely about his TV years than his film career. His accounts of quitting staff jobs when his bosses demanded changes that offended his sense of integrity make for juicy reading. He’s candid, where he can be, about the hazards — other than executive interference — that can mar a creative endeavor ... Part Hollywood how-to, part Frank McCourt-style reflection on emotional neglect and poverty, Becoming Superman is an enveloping look back at a unique career.
PanThe Washington PostThere’s nothing especially timely about the dutiful-but-not-colorful new Grant biography Bring It on Home, nor much that Zeppelin die-hards are likely to find revelatory ... the tepid epiphany that Grant developed a conscience once he got clean and got old simply isn’t enough of a reward for most readers to invest 300 pages into an account of his life. In his prologue, Blake declares Grant’s story \'a celebration, a cautionary tale, and a compelling human drama — far stranger than any fiction.\' But the book he’s written is neither celebratory nor cautionary nor strange enough to support such an extravagant claim.
RaveThe Washington Post\"In a book that’s structured like a double LP — 19 \'tracks,\' or chapters, apportioned over four \'sides,\' Hyden dissects the traditions and punctures the myths of rock fandom (and rock criticism) with a specificity that can only be called love. He’s like a kinder, married-with-children version of Rob, the record-shop proprietor who narrates Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. Or rather, Rob wishes he’d grown up to be Steven Hyden ... The crumbling of the monoculture means that you probably won’t ever have to squint to make out any of these artists from the other side of a football stadium, but that’s a good thing. Hyden’s warm and witty scholarship is, too.\
PositiveThe Dallas Morning News...a thorough, compelling survey of a transitional genre that burned briefly but brightly in the U.K. in the latter 1950s ... As good a writer as Bragg is, some imagination on the part of the reader is still necessary to conjure a time and place wherein a genre of music performed on a guitar, a 'tea chest bass,' and a washboard could be deemed so rhythmic and suggestive that it threatened public decency and order.
PositiveThe Washington Post[a] fluent, frequently hilarious, ultimately persuasive attempt to wring enlightenment from old Rolling Stone interviews, unauthorized biographies and video music awards clips. What compensates for his planned obsolescence is his deep knowledge of music and music-journalism history. He’s as entertaining on Eric Clapton vs. Jimi Hendrix as he is on Taylor Swift vs. Kanye West ... Hyden’s book chucks chronology and embraces digression and is all the stronger for it. He’s no less authoritative (or fun) when riffing on the feuds that predated his own lifetime than he is when surveying the ones he lived through as an actual high schooler ... Even before the heartbreaking news of Prince’s sudden death, Hyden’s chapter examining his competition with Michael Jackson in the mid-1980s stood out as among the book’s most nimble and heartfelt ... his impulse to interrogate the preferences we declare so stridently, coupled with the wisdom of 25 years of obsessing about music, is what makes Hyden a critic worth reading.