Week of 11/2Rock Star EditionFor some reason the fall line-up is chock-a-block with books by or about rock stars who want to share their feelings and the most intimate details of their lives. There’s a lot of diversity here, not just in the rockers themselves, but in their approach to writing.
M Train by Patti SmithKnopf272 pagesI have to admit I’m ambivalent that rock icon Patti Smith has become the Earth Mother for Generation X, or something like that. For me, Patti Smith did her thing passionately and didn’t give a shit what anyone thought. She was the anti-rock star and I loved her for it. But now she’s won the National Book Award, for Christ’s sake. Now she’s the Elder Stateswoman of Rock and, in a lot of ways she’s become our rock grandmother. There aren’t many who can claim that, or even live that long. M Train is looser than Just Kids, her memoir of New York with Robert Mapplethorpe in the early ’70’s. It’s filled with dreams, musings, odes to the domestic life. It’s Patti Smith being our cool grandmother and telling us stories on an afternoon we have her all to ourselves.Washington Post review here.
Unfaithful Music and Disappearing Ink by Elvis CostelloBlue Rider Press688 pagesFrom an A.V. Club interview:You say in the book that you’re not a nostalgic person. Can you write a memoir without nostalgia?Elvis Costello: I think you can. I think you can evoke things that matter to you and try and work out how you feel about them now or, in the case of this book, where they may have led me. That’s Elvis in a nutshell.
Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin HershUniversity of Texas Press198 pagesA love letter steeped in grief. Kristin Hersh of Throwing Muses, toured solo with alternative singer/songwriter Chesnutt for years, writing this aching memoir after his suicide. It’s a testament to a deep love and appreciation for a complex artist, part idiot savant, part asshole, and the relationship they developed on the road. It’s about the way artistic temperments can align intimately, while relationships in the ‘real world’ are jagged and bloody.NPR review here.If you don’t know Chesnutt, here’s a taste:
John Prine: In Spite of Himself by Eddie HuffmanUniversity of Texas PressBurlington music writer Eddie Huffman delivers the first ever John Prine biography, chock full of anecdotes, stories and the exhiliration of the music. Even if you don’t know Prine himself, you’ll recognize the songs; they’ve been covered by everyone from Johnny Cash to 10,000 Maniacs. “Prine’s stuff is pure Proustian existentialism” says Bob Dylan in Huffington Post. Resistance is futile.224 pages
Words without Music: A Memoir by Philip GlassLiveright432 pagesBy this point, Philip Glass is a rock star, right ? The 78 year old composer was at the vanguard of American minimalism and has gone on to do everything : opera, music for dance, film soundtracks, song cycles with rock musicians. The man is so prolific, he must write music in his sleep. This memoir tracks his life from the early days in NYC where he worked for plumbers and a moving company while writing and performing at night. It’s a charming, unpretentious report of a fascinating life.Even more:Becoming Beyonce: The Untold Story by J. Randy Taraborrelli,The Hollow of the Hand by The Hollow of the Hand by PJ Harvey and Seamus Murphy,Reckless: My Life as a Pretender by Chrissy Hynde,Massive Pissed Love by Richard Hell, Kraftwerk:Publikation by David Buckley,Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir by Carrie BrownsteinEventsWill Read for Food! with the UNCG MFA FacultyThursday, November 17 7pmScuppernong BooksWinston Salem Writers Open Mic NightWednesday, November 18 7pmMilton Rhodes CenterSmall Business SaturdayBuy Local, Eat Local, Go LocalEverywhereAnd:Here’s nearly eighteen minutes of James Brown you’ll never forget: