Many of those who look for their real names here will feel they could have written a better book.

POSEUR

A MEMOIR OF DOWNTOWN NEW YORK CITY IN THE '90S

There is lots of name-dropping and post-punk heroin hipster cliché in this memoir by a rock journalist who seems to be a legend in his own mind.

More of the self-deprecation suggested by the title would have benefitted the manuscript. Though Spitz has published biographies with titles such as Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue (2011), he’s mainly familiar as a writer for Spin, where he jumped the sinking ship “in 2006 after nine years and fourteen cover stories.” His account of the Spin years shows panache, as he rose from website blogger to gossip columnist to feature writer—where he developed a friendship and rivalry with the more successful Chuck Klosterman. He describes his first encounter with a reporter for that magazine, who described her beat as “a cool hunter…I spot trends and I write about them,” and then he proceeds to gush that “Spin magazine was, in the late eighties and early nineties, a glorious thing. Running into a real Spin writer was akin to brushing up against a senator or congressman. These were people with real power.” Ultimately, Spitz ascended to what he terms “a privileged view,” interviewing rock artists and attending concerts for free. Beyond the scope of the subtitle, there is plenty about college, heroin addiction, unpublished poetry and novels, unproduced LA screenplays and an email friendship with Courtney Love. An opening disclaimer admits that “certain names and descriptions of individuals have been altered”—which is fine when referring to a generic junkie buddy as “Hazy Jane” but inexplicable in repeated references to a well-known scenester who signed the MC5 and the Stooges and inspired the Ramones’ “Danny Says.”

Many of those who look for their real names here will feel they could have written a better book.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-306-82174-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

Did you like this book?

more