Review(ish): FARGO ROCK CITY by Chuck Klosterman and TWILIGHT OF THE GODS by Steven Hyden

KlostermanC-FargoRockCityUSChuck Klosterman and Steven Hyden are great guides to the worlds of rock and metal music, and their respective (and oft-overlapping) fandoms. In the two books covered in this feature, they examine the bands that meant the most to them, how their music fandom shaped their youths, and also the changes in the industry and soundscapes of the years that forged their tastes. Klosterman’s book is more connected to his own biography, while Hyden’s takes a more in-depth, long-view examination of what makes some rock music “classic”, and how the genre’s mythology has become ever more contentious and troubling. Both authors are passionate music fans and eloquently opinionated. As a result, they are also great guides to rock and metal music. If you have any interest in rock and metal music, then I would certainly recommend these two books. Continue reading

Eight Quick Audiobook Reviews

AudioBookReviews-20160901

A quick round-up of recent audiobook ‘reads’, with thanks to Audible UK for the review credits (except for the first reviewed, which I borrow from the Toronto Public Library). I’ve kept the reviews very short on purpose. I’ll try to keep on top of these reviews in a more timely manner in the future.

Featuring: Philip Delves-Broughton, Irin Carmon, Jessi Klein, Shana Knizhnik, Antonio Garcia Martinez, Randall Munroe, Nick Offerman, Richard Porter, Amy Schumer Continue reading

Upcoming: THE WORLD ACCORDING TO STAR WARS by Cass R. Sunstein (Dey Street)

SunsteinCR-WorldAccordingToStarWarsUKJust spotted this on Harper Collins UK’s website, and thought it looked interesting. Cass R. Sunstein is a law professor at Harvard, and also worked for the Obama administration during the first term. I’m familiar with some of Sunstein’s scholarly work, and I think it’ll be interesting to see what he has to say about Star Wars. Here’s the synopsis:

An original celebration of George Lucas’s masterpiece as it relates to history, presidential politics, law, economics, fatherhood, and culture by a Harvard legal scholar and former White House advisor

There’s Santa Claus, Shakespeare, Mickey Mouse, The Bible, and then there’s Star Wars. Nothing quite compares to sitting with down with a young child and hearing the sound of John Williams’ score as those beloved golden letters fill the screen. In this fun, erudite and often moving book, Cass R. Sunstein explores the lessons of Star Wars as they relate to childhood, fathers, the Dark Side, rebellion, and redemption. As it turns out, Star Wars also has a lot to teach us about constitutional law, economics, and political uprisings.

In rich detail, Sunstein tells story of the films’ wildly unanticipated success and what it has to say about why some things succeed while others fail. Ultimately, Sunstein argues, Star Wars is about the freedom of choice and our never-ending ability to make the right decision when the chips are down. Written with buoyant prose and considerable heart, The World According to Star Wars shines new light on the most beloved story of our time.

The World According to Star Wars is due to be published on May 31st in the US and Canada, and June 2nd in the UK. I’m looking forward to reading this book.

Review: SLASH by Slash, w. Anthony Bozza (Dey Street Books)

SlashMy second Guns ‘n’ Roses autobiography

Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I was the first album I ever bought for myself. It remains one of my favourite albums. I have always been interested in Guns ‘n’ Roses. After the initial break-up of the original line-up, I followed and waited for news about what the band would get up to. As with many fans, though, I eventually lost interest in waiting for new GnR music and found more enjoyment in following the members’ other bands — for example, Velvet Revolver and Slash’s Snakepit and, now, Slash’s eponymous solo-project (R&F’nR is one of my favourite albums of his music).

I recently read and loved Duff McKagan’s autobiography, It’s So Easy, which gave a fantastic, readable account of Guns ‘n’ Roses (relatively) short rocket to fame and stardom from the perspective of a single member. McKagan was respectful of others’ perspectives, and never guessed his bandmates’ opinions or positions, nor spoke for them. As soon as I finished It’s So Easy, I went out and picked up Slash. I think it’s safe to say that Slash is one of the greatest living guitar players, and I was eager to learn his side of the G’n’R story, and also read about his other music endeavours (Velvet RevolverSlash’s Snakepit, for example). This eponymous memoir is very good, quite exhaustive (without being exhausting), brutally honest, and accessibly written. It has a few minor flaws, but it was certainly a good read. Continue reading

Audio Review: YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler (Harper Collins/Audible)

PoehlerA-YesPleaseAn amusing, interesting idiosyncratic memoir

Do you want to get to know the woman we first came to love on Comedy Central’s Upright Citizens Brigade? Do you want to spend some time with the lady who made you howl with laughter on Saturday Night Live, and in movies like Baby Mama, Blades of Glory, and They Came Together? Do you find yourself daydreaming about hanging out with the actor behind the brilliant Leslie Knope on Parks and Recreation? Did you wish you were in the audience at the last two Golden Globes ceremonies, so you could bask in the hilarity of Amy’s one-liners?

If your answer to these questions is “Yes Please!” then you are in luck. In her first book, one of our most beloved funny folk delivers a smart, pointed, and ultimately inspirational read. Full of the comedic skill that makes us all love Amy, Yes Please is a rich and varied collection of stories, lists, poetry (Plastic Surgery Haiku, to be specific), photographs, mantras and advice. With chapters like “Treat Your Career Like a Bad Boyfriend,” “Plain Girl Versus the Demon” and “The Robots Will Kill Us All” Yes Please will make you think as much as it will make you laugh. Honest, personal, real, and righteous,Yes Please is full of words to live by.

I’m not actually too familiar with Poehler’s most famous work — save for a few SNL skits (mostly those with Tina Fey), Undeclared, and a couple of episodes of Parks & Recreation, I haven’t really seen much of what she’s done and been in. Nevertheless, I’ve enjoyed what I have seen, so I was interested in listening to Yes Please. I was not disappointed: this is a fun, lively and welcoming memoir. It’s not linear, and Poehler jumps about a bit in her narrative, but it is always interesting and entertaining. Continue reading