Lester Bangs might have been 'the greatest music journalist ever', but his rambling, gonzo style is still an acquired taste. There was a clue to his limitations in the opening piece in 'Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste': when he's not writing about music, Bangs is self-indulgently tedious. In short, there's a passion to his music writing that evaporates as soon as he strays into other areas, and this book does too much of that.
'Psychotic Reactions' contains plenty of his quirkily brilliant music journalism - hence the three stars - but it's weighed down by far too many rambling pieces with only the vaguest relevance to rock'n'roll. There's even a section entitled… Read more
It seemed like a good idea, possibly inspired by Jen Campbell's hilarious Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops. Problem is, most of the stories aren't very interesting or funny. Maybe that's why almost every anecdote - in fact almost every sentence - ends in a faintly desperate exclamation mark. It's really quite irritating! And unnecessary! Far too many of the stories are just banal accounts of customers getting the names of bands wrong! Someone asked for 'Ha-Ha' instead of 'A-Ha'! How funny is that?! Another thought that Coldplay were called Snowplay! ROFL!
Some of the stories could have been more interesting, but… Read more
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The much-quoted first line about Jude's name neatly makes the point that Rosa Rankin-Gee is a good writer with a deft touch. Even if the book doesn't live up to its potential, we're in for a good read. Sark rises out of the sea "like a soufflé"; 'The Last Kings of Sark" rises, but doesn't quite rise all the way. Three stars is a bit harsh, but it's a kind of compliment, because the writing hints at how much better Rankin-Gee's later books might be.
It's easy to concentrate on the flaws. Even if you didn't know the book started life as a novella, you'd soon guess. A few incidents seem to have found their way into the book because they really happened to the author, not… Read more