Fuel for Hell’s minions, a fan’s notes for fans.


NONFICTION 2001-2014

The storied punk rocker, autodidact, and memoirist (I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp, 2013) careens among a host of lit- and culture-crit topics.

The best parts of Hell’s collection of essays, taken from various publications over the last couple of decades, concern himself. Why punk? “I wasn’t choosing doubt and suspicion and despair,” he writes, “I was taken there by reality.” The author nods at intellectual ancestors: some are the usual suspects, such as Rimbaud, Warhol, and the Velvet Underground (“the first completely hitless rock and roll band to end up in everyone’s short-list pantheon of all-time best groups”), while some are less obvious—e.g., Robert Bresson and Nathanael West. Most of his scattered pieces work, as with a lovely meditation on the sometimes-unlovely graffiti found in the infamous CBGB bathroom and a muscular if unlikely celebration of muscle cars. (But does anyone really need to hear, at length, that Orson Welles was a genius?) Sometimes wistfully, sometimes nostalgically, even though he would certainly disavow such sentimentality, Hell limns an aesthetic that, like the New York scene of the mid-1970s, is part dumb and part profound. Though he takes The Ramones down a peg or two by calling them the cartoon, Bay City Rollers–ish creation they were (“they conceived of themselves as a boy band and a brand…more than anything else”), he praises tutelary spirit and partner in crime Patti Smith for a moment of punk brilliance in a book the two worked on called Merde: “She drew some pictures for it and one of them was just the penciled word ‘There’s not enuf time’ (she first wrote ‘enough’ and changed it to ‘enuf’ which was better.” Punk, he adds, is subversive, snotty, and adolescent—and, he adds from a wizened point of view, “a good idea.”

Fuel for Hell’s minions, a fan’s notes for fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59376-627-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Soft Skull Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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