Sunday, June 08, 2008

Books I've read or am reading

David Browne, Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth (Da Capo). I reviewed this for The Stranger (I think it runs next issue), but the brief version: amazingly well-reported (I think I learned more about Thurston's and Kim's backgrounds in the first chapter than in the many things I've read elsewhere combined), pretty well written, too bad the last quarter seemed sort of rushed through.

Ken Garner, The Peel Sessions (BBC, U.K.). This is a year old and probably won't be republished in the U.S., so head to Amazon U.K. or, if you're in the PNW, head to Powell's (or the Sonic Boom on 15th, which had a copy a few days ago). This is a rock reference book of the best sort, insane amounts of data and info that you could find online probably but why bother, and Garner does a nice job of turning the ups and downs of a long-running radio program into a fairly compelling narrative--you can read it as an alternate history of British rock, if you like. Or you can just marvel that he got so many people to respond to his queries about their Peel Session. The many quotes could probably have been edited a bit more, but they somehow never intrude.

Alicia Drake, The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent, and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris (Little, Brown and Company). On page 125. So far, this is what I'd hoped for when I bought it two years ago, deeply researched and not uncritical, absorbing without being self-absorbed (Drake, I mean--her subjects are, of course, epically wrapped up in themselves). This is a gang theory book if anything is, which is a kind of automatic win for me, and Drake's a good stylist. I'll try to finish it this week.

Patrick McGilligan, Film Crazy: Interviews with Hollywood Legends (St. Martin's Griffin). I think I picked this up for three bucks on a street-corner table in NYC about five years ago. It's the kind of book you flip through until something catches your eye, then you read 50 pages. I've read about half the Raoul Walsh Q&A (the first half), a fascinating Ronald Reagan profile (on the presidential campaign trail in 1976), and all the Joel McCrea one (his screen persona isn't that much different than his affable real-life one, how surprising). Definitely need to read the Ida Lupino one next.