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The Nick Tosches Reader Paperback – 1 Apr 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 620 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo (1 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306809699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306809699
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 872,545 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Nick Tosches was born (1949) in Newark, New Jersey, and raised by wolves from the other side. Through nepotism he became a barroom porter at the age of fourteen. Casting this career to the wind in his quest for creative fulfillment, he became a paste-up artist for the Lovable Underwear Company in New York City. On January 12, 1972, he went to lunch and never came back, drifting south to Florida, where, among other things, he worked as a snake-hunter for the Miami Serpentarium. After being bit on the shin one morning, he decided to forsake all further employment, and thus became a writer of poetry and prose.

Critical Acclaim for Nick Tosches:

"...'In the Hand of Dante can be classified as a work of mystery or crime, but the paths to and from its core mystery are far from predictable...'..." - Ian Penman, Guardian Unlimited

"...[Tosches] combines the starkness of Jim Thompson and the grittiness of Charles Bukowski with a highly literate sensibility...Mr. Tosches's powerful writing is often beautiful...." - Wall Street Journal

"...Few writers would even think of this kind of book, much less attempt to write it. And somehow, the sheer audaciousness of Tosches' writing not only blasts through our resistance to suspend disbelief but it also makes most other fiction seem phony by comparison...Tosches is ready to take his place at the front of the class in contemporary American literature...an inspired piece of fiction...." - San Francisco Chronicle

"...A splendid, passionate mess, with a moral fervor far exceeding most novels of better grooming...." - Will Blythe, New York Times

Product Description

Review

New York Times Book Review, 7/15/10 "If you want to learn about the power and dangers of rock 'n' roll, check out Mary Gaitskill's incomparable novel Veronica or Marianne Faithfull's cackling memoir or The Nick Tosches Reader."

About the Author

Nick Tosches is the author of Hellfire, Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll, Power on Earth, Cut Numbers, Dino, and Trinities.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By lexo1941 on 29 Mar. 2008
Format: Paperback
Nick Tosches has a hard voice to criticise, because it's based on a pose of having been to weirder places, seen weirder stuff and basically having lived a harder, darker and weirder life than the mere reader can possibly compete with. This is, in short, the voice of a true son of a certain and honourable school of journalism. It is not, however, the only way of talking about certain subjects. There are other ways, and other voices, some of them more persuasive than his.

For example: when Tosches was occasionally called upon by Rolling Stone to review records in the early 70s, he quite often regarded the assignment with such contempt that he didn't bother to listen to the record in question, but made up the review out of his own head. A case in point is his self-confessedly fictional review of Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid', one of the greatest albums in hard rock, but which Tosches couldn't be bothered to listen to because...well, because he was some kind of a cultural snob, plain and simple. His 'review' of it is included here, without even the merest hint of regret that he failed to spot how brilliant an album it is. I imagine that even now he regards it as beneath his notice.

Elsewhere, there is much writing that's high on octane but low on substance. There is little, in short, that lovers of music will want to reread, given Tosches' all-too-apparent but seldom openly stated contempt for the music he is mostly writing about. Much of the rest of the book is more or less entertaining, but little of it has the tragic depth of masterpieces such as his stunning Dean Martin biography 'Dino', or his equally scalding Sonny Liston bio 'Night Train', each of them heartbreaking chronicles of spiritual collapse.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 9 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
THE NICK OF TIME 12 Sept. 2000
By Russ Tarby - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
From his groanings about girls who done him wrong to the great insights into the peccadilloes of his biographic subjects, Nick Tosches astonishes with his devil-may-care prose style. He can be gentle as a feather as demonstrated in several poems printed here or he can be brutal as a bloody machete as evidenced in the unflinching profiles of Dean Martin, Sonny Liston and Jerry Lee Lewis--but he's ALWAYS both honest and entertaining. That's not to say that he simply supplants the historical record with fancy literary devices. On the contrary, as a researcher Tosches' tentacles reach from the basements of dusty libraries to the boardrooms of entertainment executives to the social clubs that function as Mafia fronts. For anyone so sheltered that they haven't encountered Tosches' work elsewhere in the past two decades, this READER serves as an apt introduction to one of the most talented writers of our time.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
In the hand of Tosches 26 Aug. 2004
By Brian W. Fairbanks - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If Humphrey Bogart (or the characters he usually played) had been a writer, he might have been Nick Tosches. Tough and funny with an iconoclasm even Bogie would have been hard-pressed to match, the author acknowledges his tough guy aspirations in the foreword to this collection of his early work: "I thought of myself as a tough guy. That is to say I pretended to be a tough guy." The cover photograph showing Tosches with cigarette in hand, a wiseguy look in his eyes, suggest he's still pretending. It may be an act but Tosches has the write stuff to pull it off.

That foreword may be one of the most honest self-portraits a writer has ever published. He admits what most of us who toil in the land of ink-stained wretchdom would probably deny but know to be true: we write because we're afraid to look someone in the eye and tell the honest, unvarnished truth about ourselves and others. But even confronting a blank piece of paper requires a courage many writers and aspiring writers lack. Tosches has courage in abundance. Anyone who subscribes to the foolishness of political correctness won't be able to endure more than a few pages of Tosches's writing. He's brutal in his honesty, and refuses to bow down and kiss the ring of popular fashion. Whether the subject is his own youth, Elvis (his ruminations on the King are a highlight), Miles Davis, fellow writer Lester Bangs, drugs, sex, rock and roll, or country music, Tosches, whose formal education never progressed beyond high-school, writes about it in an often erudite manner that is saved from pretension by the tough kick to the groin he frequently administers.

This collection was compiled from Tosches' writings through the years for publications large and small, and usually obscure and forgotten. His prose (and the several pages of poetry included) is shocking, funny, and damn good. This a collection to turn to again and again.

Brian W. Fairbanks
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
A great, hard-bitten voice better represented in his full-scale books 29 Mar. 2008
By lexo1941 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Nick Tosches has a hard voice to criticise, because it's based on a pose of having been to weirder places, seen weirder stuff and basically having lived a harder, darker and weirder life than the mere reader can possibly compete with. This is, in short, the voice of a true son of a certain and honourable school of journalism. It is not, however, the only way of talking about certain subjects. There are other ways, and other voices, some of them more persuasive than his.

For example: when Tosches was occasionally called upon by Rolling Stone to review records in the early 70s, he quite often regarded the assignment with such contempt that he didn't bother to listen to the record in question, but made up the review out of his own head. A case in point is his self-confessedly fictional review of Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid', one of the greatest albums in hard rock, but which Tosches couldn't be bothered to listen to because...well, because he was some kind of a cultural snob, plain and simple. His 'review' of it is included here, without even the merest hint of regret that he failed to spot how brilliant an album it is. I imagine that even now he regards it as beneath his notice.

Elsewhere, there is much writing that's high on octane but low on substance. There is little, in short, that lovers of music will want to reread, given Tosches' all-too-apparent but seldom openly stated contempt for the music he is mostly writing about. Much of the rest of the book is more or less entertaining, but little of it has the tragic depth of masterpieces such as his stunning Dean Martin biography 'Dino', or his equally scalding Sonny Liston bio 'Night Train', each of them heartbreaking chronicles of spiritual collapse. The main exception is the original article that gave rise to 'Night Train', which is arguably more perfectly concise and controlled than the actual book.

I have thought long and hard about why I find Tosches an ultimately depressing and dispiriting writer, and I think it has something to do with the fact that he has no real imagination. He has, to a phenomenal degree, a journalist's ability to think himself into his subject's world, and most journalists should envy how good he is at that, even if they mostly don't. But what he doesn't have is the visionary capacity to imagine a world other than this one; he respects it when it's possessed by established poets, but sneers at it when it's claimed by rock performers like Jim Morrison or Ozzy Osbourne, because Tosches is too cynical to believe that anything in rock'n'roll can carry that sort of ambition. (To be fair, Tosches would never be taken in by fakers like U2. But his dismissal of the overblown and pretentious but hugely entertaining Doors is as unimaginative as Greil Marcus preferring Randy Newman to Leonard Cohen.) Having said that, Tosches is not always intimidated into worshipping writers just because they're writers. As another reviewer pointed out, his full-on demolition job of Raymond Carver's poetry is one of the hilarious and gleeful ventures in literary criticism ever written.

Don't overestimate Nick Tosches; he is one of the two or three supreme chroniclers of American lowlife. But just because he understands disaster so well, doesn't mean he can tell you much about consummation.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A unique voice that you gotta hear! 27 April 2000
By Patrick Wagner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Nick Tosches has written reviews,journalism biography and novels. It isn't until you are deep into this collection,that you realize how Tosches has built his writing into a combination of all of these. It doesn't just contain magazine articles and old reviews,it also contins healthy hunks of his novels and full-length biographies. This is well-worth your time if you are familiar with his writing and want more, or if you are just getting interested in this unique writer. I have to go now; I want to read some of the selections ,again.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Newark 4 Dec. 2001
By Henry Zeno - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I've always enjoyed Nick Tosches. I read "Country" years ago in a Nashville library; I halfway expected to get arrested. "Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll" never fails to lift my spirits--it's one of the funniest things ever written. His novels are all right, too, and I recommend "Cut Numbers," the paperback edition of which I just bought and read in one evening. And, of course, I never travel without my hardcover of "Dino." This collection has a little too much of his poetry for my taste (although I relish his dissection of Raymond Carver's poetry), and stuff like "Frankie, Part 1" doesn't quite make it for me. The piece on George Jones is just about the best thing here and worth the price of the book. "The Sea's Endless, Awful Rhythm & Me Without Even a Dirty Picture," from "Stranded" (an otherwise undistinguished collection of essays on desert-island records), is great too. I myself never bought any of that peace-and-love jive, and I am a fan of Jerry Lee Lewis and late-'40s rhythm-and-blues, so I find Mr. Tosches a kindred spirit, even though he's from Newark and I grew up in Tennessee. He's a great prose stylist and, I've heard tell, a snappy dresser as well. I once worked with a very pretentious lady editor, from Seattle, who, most annoyingly, liked to refer to Raymond Carver as "Ray" (I think she workshopped with him once or something). I made her a copy of Tosches's piece on Carver, "Please Be Quiet-Please," and I never had to suffer her conversation again.
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