Bad Taste is easy to swallow with Lester Bangs Reader

Peering into the crystal ball to pick this fall's hits, the eager reader quickly finds himself in a fix: how to single out anything as being super special for ALL readers, or instead gather up a

Sep 24, 2003 at 2:06 pm

Peering into the crystal ball to pick this fall's hits, the eager reader quickly finds himself in a fix: how to single out anything as being super special for ALL readers, or instead gather up all the good stuff and revel in the diversity and range of new titles.

I'm reveling.

There are a couple of crossover books that bob up as ties to other areas of interest for CityBeat readers. Since CityBeat is the local source for all the music happenings, if music is the pulse of your life, Mainlines, Blood Feasts and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader is a natural. Lester Bangs was America's preeminent Rock critic in the late '60s until his death in 1982, writing for Creem, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice and virtually every music magazine out there. Movie fans might remember him as played by Philip Seymour Hoffman in Almost Famous, up at all hours and urging on budding journalist William Miller to go for the truth.

The reason Bangs knew so much — and the reason he wrote so much — is that he lived and breathed the music, the shows and the bands. (As to what he smoked, and tasted and otherwise consumed, it's best not to stray there). What's immediately clear going through this collection of classic pieces is that he was always hopped up on something, most often the music, and occasionally an accelerant of choice. His writing blows off the page like big bass lines used to blow out the speakers in the back of an AMC Gremlin.

Fittingly, while Bangs covered virtually every major (and underground) band and venue of the time, he held no sacred cows. If the Rolling Stones put out a mediocre album, from his fire-breathing point of view, he nailed and assailed them. If Anne Murray was hot stuff, the fire-breathing changed to heavy-breathing. It's a blast from the fast past, but if you're a fan of any of the 30-plus musicians or bands covered here, it's a great, trippy trip down memory lane.

Since CityBeat is also the local source for all things cinematic, Matchstick Men promises to be the cool literary film tie-in for the fall. Written with the same edge Bangs had for music, author Eric Garcia carries the same fever and fervor for con men. At times Garcia reads like the next Elmore Leonard — terse dialogue, tight scenes, memorable characters. It's fast-paced, heavy on the irony and atmosphere, and full of the grit and jargon of con men. In a lineage that stretches from The Hustler and The Sting, the charming scam artist(s) tales offer a delightful blend of cerebral hijinks, split-second intrigue and dashing characters who we're not supposed to love ... but we do. The book is loads of fun and a great way to wile away the final dog days of summer.

At the onset I confessed it would be impossible to cover the gamut of upcoming books even in capsule version. Here's a glimpse at the panorama of authors coming to town this fall. While this list only covers events at Joseph-Beth, there will be other signings around town. Stay tuned to these pages to stay in touch.

Sept. 30: Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson: Dune: The Machine Crusade

Oct. 1 Silas House: paperback of Parchment of Leaves

Oct. 8: Harold Kushner: The Lord is My Shepherd

Oct. 10: Christopher Paolini: Eragon

Oct. 12: Gary Wills: Why I Am a Catholic

Oct. 16: Noah Adams: The Flyers: In Search of Orville and Wilbur Wright

Oct. 22: Homer Hickam: The Keeper's Son

Oct. 31: Deepak Chopra: The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire

Nov. 3: Ty Pennington: Ty's Tricks of the Trade

Nov. 11: Emeril Lagasse: From Emeril's Kitchens

Nov. 19: David Macaulay: Mosque

Dec. 2: Oscar Robertson: The Big O

Dec. 7: Nick Clooney: The Movies That Changed Us