Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Review of Bumping Into Geniuses

I requested this book from the library because I heard the author on the radio one morning. He had some interesting stories about working in the rock industry, and my curiosity was piqued. I have a lifetime subscription to Rolling Stone magazine (although it's hard to keep up with my magazine subscriptions...I have stacks of unread mags throughout the house, making me feel guilty) as well as Spin magazine, and Mr. T and I are big music fans, so I'm always interested in a glimpse of the underbelly of rock.

Mr. T read this one first and dispelled me of any notions I had about this book. "There's a lot of name dropping," he said. You might think, "well, what would you expect, it's about the industry!" but I thought I knew what he meant. When I started to read the book, it became even more clear. Some of the paragraphs were just lists of names! It felt insurmountable. The beginning was the worst part; the author was just starting out in the business and meeting people. He seems to have felt compelled to not only name-drop but also to tell the life story of every character he named, whether or not they were relevant to his story, which is ostensibly the focus of the book. So he'd drop a name, detail that person's entire career in the music industry, and then return to the narrative pages later. It was so hard to keep track of what was happening because of all of the tangents.

There were a few good nuggets of info. Led Zeppelin tidbits are always fascinating, of course. I liked reading about the beginning of Stevie Nicks' solo career. As Mr. T mentioned, there was nothing really new in the section on Nirvana, but it was good to read it again. And sad. The book was unusual in that the author mentioned Courtney Love with a lot of respect, and seems to have tiptoed very carefully around the subject of Courtney in general. I didn't know much about Warren Zevon before reading this book, and it was interesting (and sad) to read about him and the making of his final album.

So, on the whole, I didn't totally hate this book, but neither would I recommend it to anyone. The author seems like the guy who has all the good stories at the party, but good stories do not a writer make. And apparently whoever his editor was was not up to the task either.

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