Matt Riedl is one of the reasons we have books in the store - he's in our receiving department. He likes quality oral histories and downright unusual fiction. Here’s his bio: "58. Married. Dour cynic (good sense of humor, though). Reader. Old punk (musician-writer syndrome applies)."
I had the absolute best time with this book! It's a droll, misguidedly 'insider' Rock biography that chronicles the misadventures of The Hollywood Brats (from London, not Hollywood! But brats, to be sure!) on the London scene of the early 70s. The story is great, absolutely; but the amiable yet constant dishing of Andrew Matheson is what puts this over the top. His opinions are so very firm - and his faith in his own success so terribly tragic - that his grudging acceptance of what transpired comes across as pure grace under fire. Seventies London, Glitter Rock, slums, organized crime, true camaraderie, horribly bad timing, sleazy label guys: all present and gleefully, downright mirthfully recounted. Dig it, please.
Musical explorer, performer and alchemist Julian Cope takes us on a very enthusiastic guided tour through ignored, obscure-yet-influential releases from the 60s through the near-present in this gigantic, in-depth tome. His insight and research are admirable indeed. As a fan of all of the above genres, even I realize that I'll never hear it all. Cope's efforts to 'hear it all' thrill me, make me feel not so lonely on our shared quest. Copendium is a seriously joyous and judgemental - in a great way - excavation.
I'll refrain from encapsulating these stories by subject matter - it's not so useful a strategy when dealing with stories as taut, sardonic and kinetically cinematic as Eric Puchner delivers here so handily. These slices of life set place and mood perfectly, so simply and easily that I'd like to read a novel based on each. No matter how unlikely the scenario - some are plenty unlikely indeed - the characters are fully represented as flawed humans. It's downright refreshing: more, please!
The first oral biography I ever read, one that sticks with me. Edie Sedgwick: beautiful, wealthy, flighty and famous, falls in with Andy Warhol's coterie in exploding mid-60s New York. Told by a vast array of would-bes, weres and hangers-on, the tale of what happens next (brilliant and bad) is edited to crystal perfection and tragic in its detail.
Starting from a premise in which the insects of the world are revolting and demanding the overthrow of the inventors of electricity, Vollmann spins vast webs of insane, wild beautiful prose, writing I simply can't stop reading. Wolfe's classic tells the tale of Ken Kesey's acid-fired ‘60s adventures, ending up in the same place texturally: I care less about what these books are about now, more about how to fall through these lovely walls of text.
Utter grim masterpiece here (see also his Requiem for a Dream), spiraling and interwoven tales of lives so twisted, hopeless and vain that their terrible ends come as mercies. I know, that doesn't sound like a recommendation! But the prose is so evocative, the dialogue at first hard to parse then recognizable as pure NYC mid-20th century shoutscape, the pure justice and injustice of it all: so harsh, so beautiful.