Da Capo Best Music Writing 2002

Overview

It's here: the third and latest volume in the series that you have come to rely upon for your music-reading fix. The 2002 volume will celebrate the year's best writing about music and its culture, as selected by Jonathan Lethem, best-selling novelist, music hound, and self-confessed closet rock-writer. With pieces on a dazzling array of topics from more than a hundred sources, the collection brings you remarkable essays by journalists and authors who are as serious about writing as they are about music. It's ...

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Overview

It's here: the third and latest volume in the series that you have come to rely upon for your music-reading fix. The 2002 volume will celebrate the year's best writing about music and its culture, as selected by Jonathan Lethem, best-selling novelist, music hound, and self-confessed closet rock-writer. With pieces on a dazzling array of topics from more than a hundred sources, the collection brings you remarkable essays by journalists and authors who are as serious about writing as they are about music. It's required reading for anyone who loves either art. Past contributors have included: David Rakoff Mike Doughty Lorraine Ali Greil Marcus Richard Meltzer Robert Gordon Sarah Vowell Nick Tosches Anthony DeCurtis William Gay Whitney Balliett Lester Bangs Rosanne Cash Susan Orlean Eddie Dean Selwyn Seyfu Hinds Alec Wilkinson David Hajdu

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this collection of 28 excellent essays-penned by some of the usual suspects (Greil Marcus, Simon Reynolds) as well as upstarts (Kate Sullivan, Kelefa Sanneh)-editor Lethem (Motherless Brooklyn) more than achieves his goal of producing "a book of encounters... an invitation to an impossible, gabbling conversation, a party line, where every voice is unforgettable." While the book's subtitle is perhaps misleading and overly ambitious (there are no essays on classical music, blues or reggae, and only a couple on jazz and country), there is barely a weak essay in the collection. David Gates on the improbable 2001 mania for bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley, Lenny Kaye's powerful and maudlin-free obituary/tribute to Joey Ramone and Steve Erickson's idiosyncratic "Top 100" songs related to his beloved Los Angeles are among the stronger entries. This volume also takes a few risks that more than pay off: selecting the Onion's fake news reports titled "God Finally Gives Shout-Out Back to All His Niggaz" and "Marilyn Manson Now Going Door-to-Door Trying To Shock People" not only provides hilarious counterpoint to many of the book's heartfelt essays but also poignantly illuminates just how much musical trends define the general culture at large. (Oct.) Forecast: This will more than meet the expectations of fans of the first two volumes in the series. With a little more publicity and marketing, this series could develop a serious crossover market.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306811661
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2002
  • Edition description: First Da Capo Press Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 372
  • Product dimensions: 0.83 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan  Lethem

Jonathan Lethem was born in 1964 in New York City, the same week the Beatles landed at JFK. His novels include Gun, With Occasional Music; Amnesia Moon; Girl in Landscape; and Motherless Brooklyn, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has also written for the New York Times Magazine, Esquire, McSweeney's, and Rolling Stone. He lives in Brooklyn. Paul Bresnick is a literary agent and editor who has edited many award-winning music books. He lives in New York City and East Hampton.

Biography

The son of artists and activists, Jonathan Lethem has always been surrounded by art and archetypes. His father, avant-garde painter Richard Brown Lethem, ensured that the household was always bustling with fellow artists, live nude models, and a creative spirit. Despite the nurturing, artistic setting, Lethem's teen years were demanding -- his mother died of cancer when he was 14, and the streets of his Brooklyn neighborhood forced him to toughen up at a young age.

Lethem's Brooklyn is rich with history and stories. Much of the world knows Brooklyn through the movies and television -- as an urban maze just outside the glitter of Manhattan. But Lethem's novels deliver a more emotional and brutal reality of the streets he called home (and still does). The Brooklyn culture of his childhood became the sidewalk on which he built his critically acclaimed Motherless Brooklyn, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award.

Lethem attended the High School for Music and Art in NYC, where he studied painting but began to hone his love of literature. An insatiable reader, he read the classic and the contemporary, including Kerouac, Mailer, Vonnegut, Chandler, Dostoevsky, Orwell, and Kafka. While still in high school, he finished a 125-page novel called Heroes. It was never published but is rumored to be the earliest form of what became The Fortress of Solitude.

After high school, Lethem attended Bennington College in Vermont but dropped out after the first semester to work on his writing. He returned to Bennington briefly, but eventually made the move to California, hitchhiking his way across the country to arrive in Berkeley in 1984. This experience, and the years he spent in San Francisco, provided the inspiration for his first three novels, Amnesia Moon(1995), As She Climbed Across the Table (1997), and Girl in Landscape (1998).

In late 1996, Lethem moved back to Brooklyn and began writing the book that would put him on the lips of every publisher and reader in the country. When Motherless Brooklyn was released in 1999, readers fell in love with its fascinating lead characters, relentless plot, and detailed setting. It was an instant success and won many awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Lethem's long-awaited next novel, The Fortress of Solitude, hit the shelves four years later, in 2003. He conducted a lot of research for the book, gaining yet another perspective on his beloved hometown. The novel is again set in Brooklyn, on Dean Street, where Lethem grew up. Over three decades, the two lead characters -- Dylan and Mingus -- experience the world through the prisms of race relations, music, and pop culture in a disturbing and compelling story of loyalty and loss, vulnerability and superhero powers.

Outside of novels, Lethem has published short fiction and lent his editing talents to a number of projects. Odd and shocking, This Shape We're In (an extended short story) is about an unforgettable trip to the hospital. The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye is a collection of seven short stories about everything from clones to professional basketball. Lethem and coauthor Carter Scholz have fun with the master of the bizarre in Kafka Americana: Fiction, a book of short stories with Kafka as the main character navigating absurd situations. Lethem edited The Vintage Book of Amnesia, short stories about the art of forgetting by such authors as Philip K. Dick, Martin Amis, and Shirley Jackson. He was guest editor of The Year's Best Music Writing 2002, essays by writers on music.

Good To Know

Lethem's original artistic impulse was to be a painter. While he remains a talented graphic artist, he first acknowledged his deep desire to write while at Bennington, where fellow classmates included Bret Easton Ellis and Donna Tartt.

Before he was a published writer, Lethem's only other jobs were in bookstores. His first bookstore job was at age 13, and he supported himself this way up to 1994 when his first novel was published. In San Francisco, he worked at the well-known Moe's Books, home of rare and antique tomes.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Jonathan Allan Lethem (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Left Bennington College after two years

Table of Contents

Introduction ix
A Ramone Leaves Home: Joey 1951-2001 Village Voice 1
Soljas Granta 5
J. Lo vs. K. Sul City Pages 25
"Help Me Make It Through the Night": The Anatomy of a Record The Journal of Country Music 30
The DJ's New Lexicon Feed 54
Two from The Onion "God Finally Gives Shout-Out Back to All His Niggaz" 62
Days of the Nu Salon.com 177
Only a Northern Song Village Voice 188
Walking on Thin Ice The Wire 193
Strokes Thread Ilovemusic.com 210
Constant Sorrow New Yorker 217
England's Oldest Hitmakers Village Voice 232
Seven Years in the Life NY Review of Books 237
Gimme Shelter Chicago Reader 248
Days Between Stations: Kelly Hogan Interview 253
A Long, Strange Trip Texas Monthly 256
Gettin' Paid New Yorker 275
The Moon Looks Down and Laughs Flaunt 292
That Same Lonesome Blood Oxford American 319
With Joey Gone, I Finally Get the Diana Fetish Toronto Globe and Mail 339
Other Notable Essays of 2001 343
List of Contributors 345
Credits 351
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