PositiveArts ATLThis is a complex drama of lawyerly intrigues and backroom political dealings, with a dash of evil multinational corporate plotting and a handful of roguish law enforcement officers of varying ranks. Abrams is good at this wide range of psychological portraiture and has crafted characters that are recognizable archetypes yet still specific ... While Justice Sleeps draws on all of Abrams’ lived experiences within our legal and political systems. Her verdict on that, as evidenced by this novel, is plainly that all high-ranking officials are extremely self-interested. Not exactly a groundbreaking theme, but Abrams’ willingness to call out any and all sides for similarly bad behavior is refreshing ... as the plot slow burns its steady way through nearly 400 pages of well-contrived machinations, there are several very real ethical questions posed about biochemical warfare, corporate monopolies, and our system of checks and balances that point toward Abrams’ cogent grasp of the challenges our nation faces ... This has all the making of a great series. The writing is solid and worth the attention, even considered in a vacuum where one disregards Abrams’ other gig.
Wendy A. Woloson
RavePopMattersWendy A. Woloson is the kind of history professor who makes a subject come alive ... In Crap, Woloson expertly combines her interest in popular Americana with her expertise in American economic history to create an interpretation of consumption in America that is as compulsive and propulsive as our consumption habits themselves. This straight-shooting history book will enliven classrooms in many disciplines but is also well-suited for basically anyone—because literally no one living in America today can escape the blast radius of its questions.
MixedPopMattersZack delves deeply into [Odett\'as] life and work, but his mixed results only seem to highlight an unexamined divide between black and white folk audiences ... Zack\'s book is about race relations and the social justice mission that fueled Odetta\'s personal rage and professional shows with unabating consistency for decades. Yet the author doesn\'t much attempt to use these same politics of identity as a lens through which we can examine Odetta\'s supposedly undervalued legacy ... Zack clearly shows that she was a pioneer, not a novelty act. One of the delights of his characterization is how regularly he will acknowledge that she was unreasonable, or that she acted rather selfishly ... Zack is a good storyteller, impeccably integrating research to tell most of the tale himself, but gently sprinkling in some quotations from interviews with those who knew her best to get the fullest emotional effect ... It\'s stunning to think of the prices she most certainly paid for expressing her reality so clearly. In reading Zack\'s biography, I often wished he\'d been equally direct in his judgment of how much of her legacy is blunted by considerations of race both now and while that legacy was in the making. Perhaps he was striving to preserve the voice of a biographer, and indeed, it\'s good that we now have one proper biography of Odetta. But I find myself longing for a cultural critic or more daring historian to pick up where this book\'s mission ends, to fill in some analysis of the historical gap between black and white folk audiences. Integrating white-dominated folk was no doubt a major hurdle, and it\'s more or less implied in Zack\'s biography. But he chooses to let it lie in the periphery.
PositivePopMatters... a lot smarter and a little edgier than Blinded by the Light in ways that matter to both the story and its messages ... engages with problems of domestic abuse, homelessness, and poverty in a way that Blinded by the Light does not even fathom ... the chapters all use a different book as a framing device, and though the tone and content of this memoir has literally much more to do with punk rock than any of these books, using the music as his conceit would not have worked.
PositivePopMattersSolnit has gracefully aged out of any mere fist-shaking into a voice predicated more on holding direct eye contact with the guilty ... Her lifelong consideration of landscape is evident in the way her sentences stretch out ... She doesn\'t simply give an example; she reworks it three or four times within the course of a single sentence, expansively and specifically homing in on a given thread ... Solnit\'s ability to capture the pathos of girlhood, to articulate the emotional landscape that women construct in order to survive and then possibly to thrive, keeps the focus where it belongs: on what we really do have in common ... Recollections of My Nonexistence does a terrific job of sharing her insight into how the struggle gets done, and anyone interested in the obliteration of patriarchy would do well to get acquainted with who Solnit is now. The surprising amount of peace of mind this book induces is, if I am not mistaken, a delicious and hard-earned symptom of hope.
PositivePopMattersKudos to Doyle for her consistency throughout the text in reminding readers that that other word we are called, \'woman\' is definitionally complex. Heteronormativity is sliding around under the entire conversation, and intersectional differences between women mean that not all oppressions are created equal. And yet, at the root, this is a book that can pin down an image of us that all women can probably affirm exists as an essential quality when properly interrogated as a reversal: anything that is monstrous is a woman ... [Doyle] moves easily back and forth between scary movies and real-life events upon which these literary images are based, artfully tracing their infinite feedback loop ... Her choice of examples is not obscure ... The theory is not complicated, especially as it will dovetail so clearly with the lived experiences of the women who will read it, and the entire book is jargon-free ... Again, the chief delight of this book is not that it presents any new information, but that it aggregates a pile of information we already know into a package that is pleasing. It\'s pleasing because Doyle has an amusing voice. By \'has an amusing voice\' I mean \'is possessed of a rage she has skillfully channeled into witty articulation\' ... you\'ll feel less alone to hear our story told in this way. By \'you\' I mean \'women\'—and students of gender studies, and listeners of true-crime podcasts, and parents who sometimes feels guilty, and so on.
PositivePopMattersOn the one hand, it would be easy to judge that this book strongly resembles everything else she\'s written ... Like the majority of Smith\'s best writing, Year of the Monkey is most at ease when it is close to death ... shouldn\'t we ask in what ways, if any, Smith is evolving as a writer? The consistency of her work is by and large commendable. Nobody thinks she\'s phoning it in. Year of the Monkey is as genuine a collection of Smith\'s life force as each of her preceding books. It is satisfying to catchup with her each time, seeing what new things she\'s thinking about in her same beautiful way ... Smith\'s awareness of herself as a character in her books is quite remarkable and she negotiates her own image with a lot of skill. Yet as I was reading, a feeling began to creep up on me that provoked me to a thought experiment. I tried reading the book as if it were written by someone else -- anyone else. In a vacuum, absent a reader\'s prior knowledge of the author, what kind of book is Year of the Monkey? ... It\'s a good book. One that I\'d recommend on the strength of all its predictable stylistic attributes and the incredible chance to look in on Sam Shepard at death\'s door ... a stunning, soothing work from the author you know so well.
RavePopMattersWe are not going to talk about Goldman\'s extensive bonafides as a musician, producer, ultimate scenester and cultural critic, because that is a useless way to evaluate a book on punk feminism. Suffice it to say she\'s well qualified. A more punk feminist approach is just to read the book and then love it or hate it or possibly both. I just loved it. I loved it for many reasons ... Regional treatment is the common back-up to chronological treatment, but Goldman embarks on a wonderfully ambitious analysis based on subject matter. She divides the chapters into Girly Identity, Money, Love/Unlove, and Protest. I mean, has music ever been about anything but these four things? .. one of the best things about Revenge of the She-Punks is the total lack of spite Goldman exhibits throughout. It would be far too easy to do a tell-all book about the experiences of women in punk music ... Instead, she hefts the virtues and the vices into one heap and concludes that some of it was necessary, some of it was fun, and some of it was evil. It\'s a true and generous move that doesn\'t gloss the reasons we she-punks still have to rage
RavePopMattersEagleton\'s take [on humor] is delightfully valuable. Rather than forge a path forward on what humor should do, he just ambles along the roads much more often taken and points out all the lovely foliage on either side. Humour makes no argument beyond a survey of all the ways one can debunk some portion of all preceding theories of humor. This is so wise, because there simply cannot be a unified field theory on the subject. Humor is the heart of postmodernity in this way, and yet rather than tangle himself in the thorny gobbledygook of critical theory, Eagleton sets out merely to describe ... he has put Humour together very neatly. Each sentence is short and comprehensible, and yet each sentence also seems to contain another new reference or idea. The text can be read quickly as rather funny in itself, or slowly to pick through the hidden depths that lurk behind each new example ... As a survey of all the questions pertaining to humor, Humour is a splendid introduction to the topic that ought to be used in universities everywhere. Professor Eagleton offers himself as a sturdy guide for this quick trip, neither so prude nor so erudite as to ruin our fun on the one hand, and on the other hand, neither so wild nor so cursory as to leave us quagmired in the academic jungle of postmodernity.
RavePop Matters...written in a style similar to Bob Dylan\'s Chronicles or Bruce Springsteen\'s Born to Run. There\'s a loose chronology, but mainly it\'s an act of mythic storytelling and perhaps a bit of down-low fence-mending ... This is a character-driven bildungsroman, not a properly straightforward set of factoids, which allows Ani\'s natural gift for the carnivalesque tale to really shine. Her swirling onstage impromptu has always been a gold standard, so it\'s no surprise that given some time for reflection and revision, she shows herself here as an exceptionally talented writer ... How wonderful that she has a chokehold on the generic human irony of her spectacularly one-of-a-kind position in music history ... presents a refreshed version of her self-concept that is both instantly recognizable as and clearly different from the flat icon we worshipped.
Bret Easton Ellis
PanPopMatters\"Ugh, what a basic white guy Ellis turns out to be. What a whining, hypocritical, bloated sack of it\'s-my-fault-but-not-my-problem this guy exhibits. What a do-nothing, rich jackass Ellis is. To read White in all its alleged seriousness is to become instantly and also repeatedly inflamed by the author\'s very unamusing and privileged putdowns of what little shred of dignity our public discourse has left ... So, here\'s my final verdict: White is a satire of nonfiction writing, and it should not be considered a serious work.\
RavePop MattersSucceeds where many have failed ... Hers is but one version of an extremely twisted and mystical story, yet it is, for all those caveats, one of the best attempts. This is in large part due to Prideaux\'s willingness to throw dynamite into the bullet points ... [Prideaux] braids the strands of philosophy and biography together with this historian\'s flair for storytelling ... I Am Dynamite! wins the day because it\'s written in a style that eerily parallels that of Nietzsche himself. The writing is poetic and spirited, zigzagging amongst quotations and paraphrasing and editorializing with astonishing alacrity for such a frequently bleak subject. She can go tit for tat on ornate and romantic syntax to set the scene and sweep across Nietzsche\'s best hopes for himself, then turn around and decimate the results with a brisk humor and aphoristic finality ... will please well-versed philosophers, but it\'s also a lovely introductory story for those that do not know Nietzsche well.
PositivePopMatters\"With its minimalist descriptions and deadpan delivery, Night Moves is about our comrades in arms who, as Seger sings, just don\'t seem to have as much to lose ... These pages from [Hopper\'s] diary demonstrate the astuteness of a hungry girl, someone who always knew she could level up—and eventually did, without having to sacrifice any of her attitude. It\'s her blunt wit, spiked with hilarious rhetorical questions, that has carried her to where she is ... Night Moves is a dozen thorny roses for the city that keeps blowing it windy-ness beneath Hopper\'s darkly comic wings. And Hopper, in this work as in all her others, is one fiercely rock \'n\' roll creature.\
MixedPopmattersThe main line of cultural wisdom is that this band is the progenitor of all punk rock music. Yet in the memoir, Kramer spends the majority of his musical attention making the case for free jazz as the most superior form of composition for both its improvisational and its collaborative capacities. He devotes literally just one page to Iggy Pop ... he struggles to find any meaningful difference among the punk acts he\'s encountered ... It does seem clear that he would like any consideration of the legacy of MC5 to focus at least as much on their political thought as on their musical talent ... There is ample opportunity in these political musings for Kramer to give deeper insight into his own character, yet many of these passages are delivered with a surprising coolness that keeps the reader at a long distance. He may be laying bare new facts of his life—such as the precise details of his breaking and entering schemes or the volume and frequency of his drug abuse—but the self-portrait rendered here is far from touching ... Perhaps this is because Kramer is a jerk. I don\'t know if he is one, but reading this book didn\'t make me feel like we could hang out. The voice here seems rather entitled and often seeks to smooth things over where there is clearly still woundedness ... Throughout reading The Hard Stuff, I had a creeping sense that the disparate facets of this book could all be much better written by [John] Sinclair. I doubt Kramer would disagree.
RavePopmattersReed really did evolve tremendously as an intellectual over the course of his life, so to see such a detailed, close-up crystallization of this one rather short season at its culmination on that one-of-a-kind evening is incredible. The portrait it paints of him is so specific and clear it\'s easy to say it makes you feel like you were there that night. And even though his brief foray into the profession of writing didn\'t last, it did somehow contain all the bare bones of Reed that we knew over time. Reed\'s brand of experimental and reactionary art always contained some of his trademarks in tone, syntax, and content ... Beyond the text of the reading, including all the introductory snippets, there are some other beautiful artifacts that really put you in the entirety of this event\'s time and place. There are Mick Rock\'s photographs of Reed holding the portable cassette recorder. There are pictures of journals and magazines where some of the things that Reed read that night ultimately got published ... The Lou Reed Archive should keep them coming.
RavePopMatters\"...an awesome compendium of her greatest hits from the past two decades ... If you haven\'t heard of the HAGs, Tea is precisely the person you want to tell you about them ... The newer parts of Against Memoir demonstrate that she still wants to push herself and explore different avenues in her work. There\'s a weird three pages on pigeons that reminds us she is still very much a poet. This book is divided into three sections—art and music, love and queerness, writing and life—and yet obviously, everything Tea publishes is infused with all six of these concepts. She knows herself.\