Thursday, April 21, 2005

Music books getting bloggy with it.

The Rock Snob's Dictionary is out in book form now, and the authors have a strikingly well-designed blog going. [via] These guys are trying really hard. The Voice recently reviewed it, and in two paragraphs just about out-snobs them.

Also, Continuum's 33-1/3 series, featuring slim books each devoted to an album of some note or worth, has its own blog, the most salient piece of which is the list of forthcoming titles. (Time to light a fire under McGonigal.) The idea of this series appeals to me in almost every way except one: I seem to have absolutly no interest in reading any of it. It's not the uneven choices being offered (Music From Big Pink, London Calling.... In the Aeroplane Over the Sea?), which sweetly level the playing field and add a note of quirkiness to an otherwise predictable list. It's more the apparent lack of any kind of consistent approach --- every author brings his (occasionally her) own structure, focus, history, tone. I'd soooner buy one for the author than album chosen, which seems the wrong way around. I have this same problem with other series, for example, the James Atlas-fueled Eminent Lives books. I actually read Paul Johnson's clear-cut Washington bio, but stalled midway through Chris Hitchens' tortuous presentation of Thomas Jefferson. Call me old-fashioned, or just old, but I'm of the mind that a series should at least offer some pretense of consistency, otherwise why do a series? Obviously, different authors will write differently, but can't we at least get some common frame of reference?

It occurs to me as I write this that at least some of my resistance is due to anticipated buyer's remorse; that, and my inability, born of years in the publishing world and my DNA-inscribed skinflintiness, to spend any money on books. Toss me a free Wolk on JB or, say, Bruno on EC, and I'm there.


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