Roundup of Real Life Rock (the book) Encomiums

Michael Robbins: “What you’ll get is the opposite of those ‘trending’ sidebars social-media sites employ to encourage lockstep thought. You won’t find, to name some of my favorite artists of this century, Taylor Swift, Ghostface Killah, Eric Church, Future, La Roux, Robyn, M.I.A. or Brad Paisley. (In an email to me, Marcus called Swift ‘the third, white-girl member of Destiny’s Child.’) This is the book’s come-on: It’s a mystery jukebox, a gumball machine, a secret history. It’s built for browsing and burrowing, like David Thomson’s Biographical Dictionary of Film, with a similarly personal corrosiveness and a lot more Dylan.”

Lewis Lockridge: “I think Marcus is a brilliant writer, and critic. I admire how he let’s himself ‘“be fooled’ so that he can grasp a better understanding of the music he’s writing about. It makes his writing stand apart from other music critics, as it seems to be more real.”

Sam Lefebvre: “It’s a good time for this book: Real Life Rock reminds skeptics that capsule reviews have a long and rich tradition. Indeed, the earlier, shorter installments, bound to printed periodicals’ stringent word-count, pressure Marcus into the best kickers: “…pop Stalinism, or the kind of revisionism you can find in textbooks on American history.” Also: ‘Fuck off and die, cretins.’ (It’s easy to miss his scabrous bent in the later Believer installments.) Of the Sonics, he writes, ‘This might have taken longer to record than it does to play,’ coolly summing the sense of bottled urgency that characterizes the best of the band’s every garage descendent. Resonant commentary doesn’t require voluminous exegesis.”

Adam Ellsworth: “More than simply lists, the top 10 columns offered roughly a paragraph or less each on 10 slices of life that caught Marcus’s fancy. The subjects could be albums, songs, bootlegs, art exhibitions, advertisements, novels, fanzines… anything really.”

Robert Ham: “The book also allows for a mainline glimpse into the curiosities and loves of a mainstream critic like no memoir or biography could. Marcus returns again and again to his chief musical loves—Presley, Dylan, Neil Young and The Mekons make many, many appearances throughout these columns—and seems to view every piece of pop culture he encounters through a rock ‘n’ roll lens. Nearly every novel, TV show or movie is filtered as such. That fits in well with the column’s title, but also makes him appear downright obsessive at times.”

More info about Real Life Rock: The Complete Top 10 Columns, 1986-2014

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