A valuable study of Reed, further cementing his totemic influence as the high priest of art rock.

DIRTY BLVD.

THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF LOU REED

A biography of legendary rocker Lou Reed (1942-2013).

There is no shortage of biographies testifying to Reed’s importance as the godfather of punk and progenitor of art rock. Even before his death, his place in the rock-’n’-roll pantheon was uncontested as a founding member of the Velvet Underground, and his life had become the subject of mythic archetype for his transgressive lyrics, blend of pop stylings with avant-garde aesthetics, and hard-living lifestyle. Journalist Levy’s narrative of Reed’s life and work—touted as the first since his death—confirms these honors. But the most useful aspect of Levy’s study is his ability to separate Reed the rocker from Reed the person. Reed’s reputation and legacy as one of the pioneers and innovators of rock are unquestioned, but the author also showcases his irascible, confrontational, and often cruel personality, which complicated his cult of personality. Driven by the emergence of bohemian and Beat cultures in the 1950s, Reed devoted himself to a contrarian, anti-bourgeois lifestyle that alienated friends and lovers, sabotaged professional relationships, and fueled a self-destructive lifestyle. Guided by his literary mentor Delmore Schwartz, Reed began his musical career as a songwriter at Pickwick Records, where he began writing one of his early masterpieces, “Heroin.” He also made connections with like-minded musician John Cale and artist Andy Warhol, who formed the artistic core of the Velvet Underground. As frontman, Reed ushered in a new style of cacophonous, uninhibited, and gritty urban realism in songwriting. The details of Reed’s ascendance, fall, and comeback as a solo artist are so vital and culturally significant they read like a Hollywood script, and Levy ably captures it. Few artists, let alone musicians, have had a more fruitful yet tempestuous creative life, the results of which forever changed perceptions of popular music and art.

A valuable study of Reed, further cementing his totemic influence as the high priest of art rock.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61373-106-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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