RaveAir MailIt is filled with songs and hyperbole and views on love and lust even darker than Blood on the Tracks ... There are 66 songs discussed here ... Only four are by women, which is ridiculous, but he never asked us ... Nothing is proved, but everything is experienced—one really weird and brilliant person’s experience, someone who changed the world many times ... Part of the pleasure of the book, even exceeding the delectable Chronicles: Volume One, is that you feel liberated from Being Bob Dylan. He’s not telling you what you got wrong about him. The prose is so vivid and fecund, it was useless to underline, because I just would have underlined the whole book. Dylan’s pulpy, noir imagination is not always for the squeamish. If your idea of art is affirmation of acceptable values, Bob Dylan doesn’t need you ... The writing here is at turns vivid, hilarious, and will awaken you to songs you thought you knew ... The prose brims everywhere you turn. It is almost disturbing. Bob Dylan got his Nobel and all the other accolades, and now he’s doing my job, and he’s so damn good at it.
MixedAir MailA Ballet of Lepers is so rancid—flagrantly, deliberately—it almost seemed like an experiment in how dark his muse could take him ... A Ballet of Lepers was too degenerate for its time, but it’s hard to imagine it surfacing now ... Mixing the sacred and the profane and everything in between, [Cohen] became our John Donne ... He hadn’t gotten there yet in A Ballet of Lepers, but the integrity of the language is solid throughout.
RaveAirmailAs we learn in John Lingan’s compelling A Song for Everyone: The Story of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the members were not, by any stretch, born on the bayou...They all hailed from working-class Northern California, not Berkeley, not San Francisco...They were fake southerners, and John Fogerty’s fake dialect sometimes became a bizarre hybrid...\'I hoid it through the grapevine,\' he sang, which must have been weird for Marvin Gaye to hear, though there was nothing weird about the royalties...It sounded like a Cajun acid trip, though they didn’t do drugs...Way later, in a world that had gone wrong many times over, Fogerty went on social media demanding that Donald Trump stop playing \'Fortunate Son\' at his rallies...\'Fortunate Son\' is from the point of view of working-class young men who didn’t have the connections to avoid Vietnam, not a rich kid with bone spurs...Fogerty tried to explain, but Trump just kept paying the fines and blaring the song...Music that lasts can stray far away from its maker...\'I want to know, have you ever seen the rain?\' asks Fogerty on the Creedence track that can always break my heart...This song is a beatitude, with a soaring melody and a haunting image...The rain can be healing; it can be romantic; it can be the pathetic fallacy...It could have been about Vietnam then, and it could be about the sorrows of today and beyond...There’s always another bad moon rising...That’s why we need music.
PositiveAir MailKlosterman’s remarkable book made me rethink my decade and rethink myself ... The devastating ending of Klosterman’s book, with the frivolous headlines on the newspapers that hit the ground when the 9/11 hijackers boarded, makes one wonder what we are getting wrong now. In 20 years, the Gen Z Klosterman will write the definitive book about whatever this decade is.
RaveAir MailIf you can’t handle watching terrible things happen to a sweet, misunderstood kid, this book may be hard for you to take. Just remember, this may feel like the real world, but it’s not. In the imagination of the book, the dead can live again as re-mapped memories. The flawed world can be redeemed, at least until the grant money runs out ... Powers finds magic in the commonplace ... a pastoral elegy for a planet that is already doomed. Look around and take it in with everything you have.
RaveAir Mail\" Everything about it is crazy, yet also utterly compelling, persuasive, even beautiful, sprung from a mind like no one else’s ... Early on, our beloved martyr realizes, \'In real life you aren’t allowed to say you’re angry but in music you can say anything.\' It turns out that she thought real life and music were the same thing. You would think she learned her lesson, but, bless her, she never did.
RaveAir MailNo one in Roth World walks into anything without ego, personal failings, biases, hang-ups—issues. And yet, as Bailey, our intrepid goy from Oklahoma, observes and reports, we always wonder, like a Philip Roth character, what’s behind that elegant prose and seamless research ... If there was going to be one person other than Philip Roth that could take on Philip Roth, it appears to be Blake Bailey. He never gilds Roth’s lilies, he never calls attention to himself, and he doesn’t even show off most of his interviews. He seems to have taken Flaubert’s advice that a writer should be like God: present everywhere and visible nowhere. He doesn’t have to tell us not to try this at home. He is behind the scenes, giving us the picture, accurately, elegantly, obscenely.
PositiveLos Angeles Review of Books\"[The book] makes you wince at times, but it is never boring or banal or predictable. It is stuffed with well-turned phrases and fresh observation ... At one level, this is an unremarkable story. Guy meets girl, cheats on other girl, excitement, guilt, and dishonesty follow. But it’s not the tale, it’s the teller ... Early Work is wall-to-wall with erudite repartee, from bar chatter to pillow talk; it is filled with the subtleties of flirtation, the details of dissatisfaction, the ironies of miscommunication ... The deception at the center of the novel is ultimately unsustainable, and things unravel accordingly. What keeps the reader engrossed is not the cheating but the writing, the author’s sharp insights into his characters.\
MixedSlateIn Hilburn’s book, Simon’s quotations never disappoint and often dazzle. But when we are in Hilburn’s prose, we are in a holding pattern: waiting for the next gem from Simon or Randy Newman or Carrie Fisher. The writing is always clean and clear. There is not a single bad sentence. But this is a prosaic account ... Paul Simon is exacting about every last syllable, every beat, every line, and even when something is a hit, he sometimes questions it ... Is this same Paul Simon going to let a writer into his head? Not one that makes him uncomfortable. So we never really feel that static because we never really feel our subject being challenged by his interlocutor ... I’m not suggesting that a biography of a major artist should be dominated by gossip, but I am insisting that it be filled with life ... Hilburn’s book, with its unprecedented access, is still not nearly enough for Paul Simon.