This is what Lester Bangs would have written had he been a farmboy raised on a diet of Skid Row and KISS. Unfailingly smart...



A witty journey into the demimonde of 1980s heavy-metal music by way of the High Plains.

Klosterman, now a music critic for the Akron Beacon Journal, grew up in a farm town in North Dakota whose 500 residents included dozens of teenagers who categorized themselves on the basis of the music they liked. For Klosterman and a few of his beer-chugging pals, that music was heavy metal: the guaranteed-to-drive-parents-insane, bottom-heavy fuel of the rural dispossessed. Characterized by a “beautiful combination of virtuosity and imbecility,” 1980s-era heavy metal was guaranteed to polarize; critics hated it, but the kids (who lived and breathed for albums like Mötley Crüe’s Shout at the Devil and Ozzy Osborne’s Diary of a Madman) were as confident of the righteousness of their cause as was any old-hippie fan of the Grateful Dead or the Beatles. The author engages in plenty of sociologizing and philosophizing as he takes an amiable, booze-soaked ramble through the genre, listing favorite albums and musing on the merits of big-hair bands like Cinderella and Whitesnake and the relative status of guitarists like Eddie Van Halen—who regularly earns top honors in magazine lists of the greatest guitar players of all time. (Klosterman, perhaps heretically, allows that Jimi Hendrix was the better axman, adding, “Van Halen remains the most influential guitar of all time, but only because nobody can figure out how to rip Hendrix off.”) A big bonus comes toward the end when Klosterman assembles a list of “essential” albums, which he ranks by the amount of money someone would have to pay him never to listen to them again—a mere $66 for Van Halen’s 1984, but a walloping $5,001 for Guns N’ Roses’ undeniably great Appetite for Destruction.

This is what Lester Bangs would have written had he been a farmboy raised on a diet of Skid Row and KISS. Unfailingly smart and demonically opinionated, it could even make a few converts to the music Tipper Gore once loved to hate.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7432-0227-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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