PSYCHOTIC REACTIONS AND CARBURETOR DUNG: An Anthology by Lester Bangs

PSYCHOTIC REACTIONS AND CARBURETOR DUNG: An Anthology

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A collection of essays, criticism, and other writings by the late, lionized rock-and-roll critic of the 70's. Bangs gained national prominence at influential Creem magazine from 1970-1976. He died in 1982 at age 33. Heavily shaped by 60's attitudes, his critical style, a fusion of New Journalism and Romanticism, emerged simultaneously with the birth of the superstar system in American pop, a phenomenon Bangs caustically labels ""I-rock."" Thus, essays on such 70's superstars as Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Barry White, and The Clash are marked by a suspicious distrust. The book's central chapter, a series of reviews of and interviews with underground music ace Lou Reed, gradually provokes the author's deepest contemplation of ""why all our public heroes seem to reinforce our own solitude."" tn the course of a militant and madly entertaining sit-down chat with his drugged idol, Bangs becomes a mirror of Reed's decadence; in the heat of confessional exchange, the rocker turns charges that he has become excessive egoist and poseur against the critic, who in the sobriety of reflection sees their truth. Editor Marcus ends the anthology with a portion of an unpublished Bangs' novel titled All My Friends are Hermits, which, though tedious reading, demonstrates one last time Bangs' notion that rock, like life, is ""mainly about beginnings, about youth and uncertainty and growing through and out of them."" Bangs' digressive, self-indulgent style--his journalistic trademark--is discouraging over the course of an anthology; the book's longer pieces flag. All in all, this noisy, if entertaining, tribute to a prodigious rock spirit ultimately reveals much more about the man than the music or the times that made him.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1987
Publisher: Knopf