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Reviewing the Reviews

Oct. 27 - 28.

Publication: Sun-Times

Cover: "Out of Tune," in which rock critic Jim DeRogatis takes on Eric Clapton's autobiography and Pattie Boyd's Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me.

Normally I'd think this was a little late in coming, as these books have been discussed thoroughly before, but getting DeRogatis's take is always interesting - even if he finds both books disappointing - because they probably are (Interior headline: "Guitar God, Boyd Both Fail To Deliver Any Deep Insight On Their Lives").

"Boyd and Clapton both justify the casual, almost haphazard way they tackle their fabled romance and the ruined marriages left in its wake by nothing that they only realized, more than three decades later, that the emotional turmoil was exacerbated and possibly created by immature and otherwise unhealthy young people living in a surreal bubble of wealth, fame and cultural upheaval," DeRogatis writes.

Beyond that, Clapton's "just-the-facts accounts of some of the more amazing moments in his storied career wind up making these events seem banal, if not downright boring."

And here's where the real disappointment comes in, according to DeRo.

"An even bigger mystery - and the most serious hole in the center of the guitarist's autobiography - is the source of his creativity and the nature of his relationship with music. The former leader of the Yardbirds, Cream and Blind Faith turned fabulously successful solo artist writes very little about songwriting and recording, or even about his musical fandom."

Other Reviews & News of Note: The Knock At The Door: A Journey Through The Darkness Of The Armenian Genocide.

For its timing, at least.

Also: A short feature on the Chicago Review Press.


Publication: Tribune

Cover: "The Florist's Daughter: Minnesota writer Patricia Hampl's new memoir is a tour of memory in an attempt to understand the past."


Why is this the cover of this week's Chicago Tribune book review?

It turns out this is one of the review's shortest pieces, on page 5. Not worthy of a cover by any standard.

But then, what in here is?

The closest I can come is "Chicago In Noir And Blue," a review of Chicago Blues, described as "a fine collection of Windy City stories" by various crime writers.

That could have been a cover.

A review of The New Kings of Nonfiction gets a center spread. That could have been a cover.

I see in the listings (which are paid advertisements) that Harold! Photographs From the Harold Washington Years "captures in words and pictures the powerful emotions that identified Mayor Harold Washington."

That could have been a cover.

As "exquisite" as The Florist's Daughter may be, there is no rhyme or reason for its starring role in this week's Trib Books review; but then, there is never much rhyme or reason to this sorry publication.


Publication: New York Times

Cover: "Century's Playlist." Geoff Dyer's review of The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century kicks off The Music Issue of the Times Book Review.

That book is about classical music, so I'll move on.

Other Reviews & News of Note: Stephen King (!) likes Clapton's book more than DeRogatis (natch), but notes as well that "He is rarely able to communicate clearly what his music means to him." King's appreciation is more of the book as a recovery drunkalogue (King has been sober himself from various addictions since the late '80s) than a musical memoir, though he too would prefer more rock 'n' roll.

Also: Works about the Beatles, Coltrane, the Chelsea Hotel. It all feels so done. To death. By Boomers. Who Should Be Killed.



1. Stephen Colbert
2. Eric Clapton
3. Clarence Thomas
4. Alan Greenspan
5. Rosie O'Donnell
6. Ann Coulter


Posted on October 29, 2007

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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