A solid reference for punk scholars, though disappointing for the True Believers.



How punk went pop.

Music journalist Diehl (Rolling Stone; the New York Times) deftly analyzes the ideologically fraught, stylistically Balkanized state of contemporary punk rock. Despite the author’s touching attempt to make an argument for the political and cultural legitimacy of the music as it is played today, the journey from the Sex Pistols and the Clash to Good Charlotte and Blink 182 is an inescapably depressing one. His case rests largely on Green Day’s widely lauded 2004 album American Idiot, and on the reckless charisma of Distillers frontwoman Brody Dalle—pretty weak stuff. In fact, Diehl’s fixation on Dalle (a sort of Australian Courtney Love) threatens to overwhelm the narrative and turn it into a mash note—the Distillers are just not significant enough to warrant the space granted them here. Still, there is a bit of value, including cogent analysis of the various “scenes” that have formed in punk’s second and third waves (hardcore, straight-edge, emo, etc.); copious interview material from the major players; and a healthy ironic appreciation of the ways in which punk rock, designed to be culturally indigestible outrage, has been smoothly commodified and turned into a kind of instant identity kit for disaffected suburban kids, as hidebound and conformist as the social order Johnny Rotten and Joe Strummer strove to overthrow. There is an informative section on the history of the annual punk-themed Warped tour—a dazzlingly effective vehicle for spreading the gospel—and Diehl has intelligent things to say about the subjects of political activism and gender politics as they relate to modern punk. And yet, the bland mall-friendly likes of bands like Yellowcard and Simple Plan beg the question: Does contemporary punk deserve a book-length analysis? One comes away from Diehl’s treatment acutely missing the Ramones.

A solid reference for punk scholars, though disappointing for the True Believers.

Pub Date: April 17, 2007

ISBN: 0-312-33781-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2007

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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 19, 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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