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Black Sabbath's Master of Reality (33 1/3) Paperback – April 15, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: 33 1/3 (Book 56)
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (April 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826428991
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826428998
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 4.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #182,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Mention in Harp Magazine (Grayson Currin)

"[T]he focus of Darnielle's fans has always been on hislyrics and the stories contained within them. Now he's stepped off the stage and sat down at is typewriter to deliverMaster of Reality, his first novel and a stunning piece of rock criticism andappreciation.
Readers are likely to come to Master of Reality from avariety of backgrounds. Some will comeas Mountain Goats fans wanting to see Darnielle tackle a novel, others as BlackSabbath fans wanting to read about a favorite album. Some will simply be fans of the cult-popular33 1/3 series, which has now grown to dozens of books, yet kept its level ofquality very high. Hopefully, there willbe others who will pick it up as novel first, because it truly is a first-ratestory, full of moments that will pluck at your heartstrings as you're broughtback to the moment you first fell in love with a piece of music, when an albumprovided not just the soundtrack to your life but also the meaning behindit. If, by some strange chance, none ofthis happens, well, you're probably going to at least dust off your old Sabbathvinyl, and there's nothing wrong with that either." —NewPages.com


"[Darnielle] straightjackets the essence of Black Sabbathwhere 40 years of music musings and cultural damnation have failed." —Raoul Hernandez, Austin Chronicle (Raoul Hernandez)

"Total affection for, and strong identification with, musicis a cross-generational experience, and though the motivation behind the 33 1/3series meshes nicely with a post-Generation X obsession with the minutiae ofpersonal experience, it's also immediately accessible to anyone who's everwritten favorite lyrics on her algebra notebook. While nostalgia runs thick inDarnielle's book (the nature of the series essentially demands this), there's agreater point about music and memory to be found in Roger's story. Indulgencein the memory of intense feelings can be strangely comforting, and perhaps evennecessary. Or, as Roger puts it: 'It doesn't have to mean that to everybody, andit means more no matter what...'"— Thea Brown, The L Magazine (Thea Brown)

"Darnielle, singer and songwriter for the much-loved bandThe Mountain Goats, cuts right to the chase in his short novel, the blunt,direct tone of his adolescent protagonist Richard Painter perfectlyencapsulating the enduring appeal of metal's great progenitors. It's all aboutthe Mighty Riff when it comes to Sabbath; everything else is secondary, andwhile one could easily make a case for at least half a dozen albums thatdeserve the 33 1/3 treatment, the riffs that define this particular album are,to echo young Roger's sentiment, unfuckwithable." —Adrien Begrand, Popmatters.com
(Adrien Begrand)

"Mountain Goat John Darnielle's off-stage literaryproclivities are no secret, which makes us all the more excited for his firstnovel, a paean to Black Sabbath's Master of Reality. The book is the latest in Continuum's 33 1/3series ultrasmart series of elegant, pocket-size appreciations of rock albumsas diverse as the Beatles' Let it Be and My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. Darnielle unpacks the classic, riff-erificalbum as a scrabrous series of diary entries written by a teenager in a Southern California mental institution. Those curious tosee the budding rock critic off-stage or who are simply bonkers for Sabbath areadvised to check out this reading." —Tayt Harlin, New YorkMagazine


"With his short stories masquerading as songs, JohnDarnielle—founding member of the Mountain Goats—has crafted a wide range ofoff-kilter characters. He continues thistradition with Roger, a fifteen-year-old patient in a psychiatric hospital andthe protagonist of Darnielle's first book, a loving diary-style exploration ofBlack Sabbath's Master of Reality, part of Continuum's 33 1/3 series...Inspiredby his real-life experiences as a psychiatric nurse (and love of all thingsmetal), Darnielle's literary debut is a fast, addictive read that also tugs onthe heartstrings of sensitive Ozzy fans." —Exclaim magazine

Interviewed in Philadelphia Weekly

"The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle Is Good At Writing!
People love The Mountain Goats because all their songscontain SAT vocab words and are like little stories. So it's unsurprising that JohnDarnielle can also work up some music-free compositions, like his contributionto Continuum's 33 1/3 series of books inspired by classic albums, a novel aboutBlack Sabbath's 'Master of Reality.' He also recently wrapped up a stint of guest blogging atPowell's excellent blog, which is worth revisiting if you're curious about hisfeelings about heavy metal (he likes it! and is very knowledgable about it!).And if you live in New York,you can come to a reading of the Black Sabbath book next Saturday at HousingWorks and witness his non-singing talents in person." —MediaBistro's Galleycat


Interviewed by Gothamist

Entry on Brooklyn Vegan about reading

"Just like Black Sabbath throws big rocks at subtlety andRoger's manifesto-journal channels anger towards the mental healthestablishment, Darnielle's book obliterates the sterility of music criticism. Iimagine him reading reviews of his work and building up all of this disdain,deciding finally that he's going to do it better. Ultimately, Master of Realitycritiques criticism itself, an institution that encourages us to thrash apartthe art of others — without offering any blood of our own." — Tiny Mix Tapes


Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 "John Darnielle is the single constant behind the group theMountain Goats and arguably the most rewarding lyricist working today. Takinginto account his prolific wordsmithery ("Laugh lines on our faces / scalemaps of the ocean floor") and affinity for horror both cinematic andliterary ("Heretic Pride," the most recent Mountain Goats album, hassong titles naming Fu Manchu creator Sax Rohmer and H.P. Lovecraft), itshouldn't come as a surprise that he'd contribute to Continuum's "331/3" series of short books pegged to iconic albums. But "Master ofReality" departs brilliantly from the typical "33 1/3" format,not just by choosing fiction over criticism or recording history, but in itsstructural gambits and unwavering sense of purpose." —Los Angeles Times (Ed Parks)

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 "I'd like to give a special shout-out to John Darnielle'sbook about Black Sabbath's Master of Reality, published as part of Continuum's33 1/3 series of album-themed books...If you like the band,you'll like this book. If you like intense young-adult takes like The Perks ofBeing a Wallflower, you'll like this book. No matter what, by the end, you'llbe racing to purchase Master of Reality, which is a beautiful thing." —USA Today,PopCandy


Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 "Forget the other 33 1/3s, this belongs next to The Catcherin the Rye." —DecibelMagazine

"Darnielle's novella is not only a touchstone in the series,it is a powerful and potent book in its own right. Utterly compelling."-Community Care, UK

(David Hemingway)

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 "This is a masterly look at the corrosive emotion of youth, and the invaluablesolace that music gives. Read it, even if you'd rather stick knitting needlesin your ears than listen to the album in question. Because its about you." —TheBig Takeover magazine
(James Mann, author of About Face: A History of America's Curious Relationship with China, from Nixon to Clinton)

"This is not the first time Darnielle explores these dark waters. In fact the text is a retelling, if not an extension of " The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton," the first track on the Mountain Goats' 2002 album, All Hail West Texas. As both the text and the song are meditations on the redemptive aspects of heavy metal, the depravity of institutional authority and the refusal to forgive, the reader who is familiar with either Darnielle's musical work or Black Sabbath will find the text particularly rewarding." - Christian, http://enoughcowbell.com
(Christian)

"written keenly and with great generosity"
Reviewed in Idolator , 24 december 2008


"Darnielle— who worked as a nurse in a mental hospital and presumably met quite a few smart, lost kids like Roger— speaks to the soul-damaging aspects of locking up problem teens and offers a piece of music criticism that illuminates the edifying qualities of heavy metal."
-Pitchfork feature "Our 60 Favorite Music Books"


Mention in Harp Magazine (Sanford Lakoff)

“[T]he focus of Darnielle’s fans has always been on hislyrics and the stories contained within them. Now he’s stepped off the stage and sat down at is typewriter to deliverMaster of Reality, his first novel and a stunning piece of rock criticism andappreciation.
Readers are likely to come to Master of Reality from avariety of backgrounds. Some will comeas Mountain Goats fans wanting to see Darnielle tackle a novel, others as BlackSabbath fans wanting to read about a favorite album. Some will simply be fans of the cult-popular33 1/3 series, which has now grown to dozens of books, yet kept its level ofquality very high. Hopefully, there willbe others who will pick it up as novel first, because it truly is a first-ratestory, full of moments that will pluck at your heartstrings as you’re broughtback to the moment you first fell in love with a piece of music, when an albumprovided not just the soundtrack to your life but also the meaning behindit. If, by some strange chance, none ofthis happens, well, you’re probably going to at least dust off your old Sabbathvinyl, and there’s nothing wrong with that either.” –NewPages.com


“[Darnielle] straightjackets the essence of Black Sabbathwhere 40 years of music musings and cultural damnation have failed.” –Raoul Hernandez, Austin Chronicle (Sanford Lakoff)

“Total affection for, and strong identification with, musicis a cross-generational experience, and though the motivation behind the 33 1/3series meshes nicely with a post-Generation X obsession with the minutiae ofpersonal experience, it’s also immediately accessible to anyone who’s everwritten favorite lyrics on her algebra notebook. While nostalgia runs thick inDarnielle’s book (the nature of the series essentially demands this), there’s agreater point about music and memory to be found in Roger’s story. Indulgencein the memory of intense feelings can be strangely comforting, and perhaps evennecessary. Or, as Roger puts it: 'It doesn’t have to mean that to everybody, andit means more no matter what…’”   — Thea Brown, The L Magazine (Sanford Lakoff)

“Darnielle, singer and songwriter for the much-loved bandThe Mountain Goats, cuts right to the chase in his short novel, the blunt,direct tone of his adolescent protagonist Richard Painter perfectlyencapsulating the enduring appeal of metal’s great progenitors. It’s all aboutthe Mighty Riff when it comes to Sabbath; everything else is secondary, andwhile one could easily make a case for at least half a dozen albums thatdeserve the 33 1/3 treatment, the riffs that define this particular album are,to echo young Roger’s sentiment, unfuckwithable.” –Adrien Begrand, Popmatters.com
(Sanford Lakoff)

“Mountain Goat John Darnielle’s off-stage literaryproclivities are no secret, which makes us all the more excited for his firstnovel, a paean to Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality. The book is the latest in Continuum’s 33 1/3series ultrasmart series of elegant, pocket-size appreciations of rock albumsas diverse as the Beatles’ Let it Be and My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless. Darnielle unpacks the classic, riff-erificalbum as a scrabrous series of diary entries written by a teenager in a Southern California mental institution. Those curious tosee the budding rock critic off-stage or who are simply bonkers for Sabbath areadvised to check out this reading.” –Tayt Harlin, New YorkMagazine


“With his short stories masquerading as songs, JohnDarnielle—founding member of the Mountain Goats—has crafted a wide range ofoff-kilter characters. He continues thistradition with Roger, a fifteen-year-old patient in a psychiatric hospital andthe protagonist of Darnielle’s first book, a loving diary-style exploration ofBlack Sabbath’s Master of Reality, part of Continuum’s 33 1/3 series…Inspiredby his real-life experiences as a psychiatric nurse (and love of all thingsmetal), Darnielle’s literary debut is a fast, addictive read that also tugs onthe heartstrings of sensitive Ozzy fans.” –Exclaim magazine

“The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle Is Good At Writing!
People love The Mountain Goats because all their songscontain SAT vocab words and are like little stories. So it's unsurprising that JohnDarnielle can also work up some music-free compositions, like his contributionto Continuum's 33 1/3 series of books inspired by classic albums, a novel aboutBlack Sabbath's 'Master of Reality.' He also recently wrapped up a stint of guest blogging atPowell's excellent blog, which is worth revisiting if you're curious about hisfeelings about heavy metal (he likes it! and is very knowledgable about it!).And if you live in New York,you can come to a reading of the Black Sabbath book next Saturday at HousingWorks and witness his non-singing talents in person.” –MediaBistro’s Galleycat


“Just like Black Sabbath throws big rocks at subtlety andRoger’s manifesto-journal channels anger towards the mental healthestablishment, Darnielle’s book obliterates the sterility of music criticism. Iimagine him reading reviews of his work and building up all of this disdain,deciding finally that he’s going to do it better. Ultimately, Master of Realitycritiques criticism itself, an institution that encourages us to thrash apartthe art of others — without offering any blood of our own.” – Tiny Mix Tapes


Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 “John Darnielle is the single constant behind the group theMountain Goats and arguably the most rewarding lyricist working today. Takinginto account his prolific wordsmithery ("Laugh lines on our faces / scalemaps of the ocean floor") and affinity for horror both cinematic andliterary ("Heretic Pride," the most recent Mountain Goats album, hassong titles naming Fu Manchu creator Sax Rohmer and H.P. Lovecraft), itshouldn't come as a surprise that he'd contribute to Continuum's "331/3" series of short books pegged to iconic albums. But "Master ofReality" departs brilliantly from the typical "33 1/3" format,not just by choosing fiction over criticism or recording history, but in itsstructural gambits and unwavering sense of purpose.” –Los Angeles Times (Sanford Lakoff)

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 “I’d like to give a special shout-out to John Darnielle’sbook about Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality, published as part of Continuum’s33 1/3 series of album-themed books...If you like the band,you’ll like this book. If you like intense young-adult takes like The Perks ofBeing a Wallflower, you’ll like this book. No matter what, by the end, you’llbe racing to purchase Master of Reality, which is a beautiful thing.” –USA Today,PopCandy


Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 “Forget the other 33 1/3s, this belongs next to The Catcherin the Rye.” –DecibelMagazine

"Darnielle's novella is not only a touchstone in the series,it is a powerful and potent book in its own right. Utterly compelling."-Community Care, UK

(Sanford Lakoff)

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 "This is a masterly look at the corrosive emotion of youth, and the invaluablesolace that music gives. Read it, even if you’d rather stick knitting needlesin your ears than listen to the album in question. Because its about you.” –TheBig Takeover magazine
(Sanford Lakoff)

"This is not the first time Darnielle explores these dark waters.  In fact the text is a retelling, if not an extension of " The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton,"  the first track on the Mountain Goats' 2002 album, All Hail West Texas.  As both the text and the song are meditations on the redemptive aspects of heavy metal, the depravity of institutional authority and the refusal to forgive, the reader who is familiar with either Darnielle's musical work or Black Sabbath will find the text particularly rewarding." - Christian, http://enoughcowbell.com
(Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

John Darnielle is the singer and songwriter otherwise known as the Mountain Goats.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
5 star
10
4 star
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0
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See all 24 customer reviews
This book is pure fiction, and shouldn't be a part of this series.
Rich L.
The book is good, ponderous, thinks about what Black Sabbath might mean to people, and explores the travails of the good messed-up teen.
Surferofromantica
Yet another 33 1/3 that gives no information on the album on the cover of the book.
Chris S

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Kirsten on April 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
this sweet, sad little riff of a book succeeds--like the best of the 33 1/3 series--on so many levels at once I'm itching to pick it up and read it through again. whether you are a fan of Black Sabbath (I haven't listened in years), interested in unexpected forms music criticism (the fictional narrator here makes no appologies for being a superfan), or just looking for a compelling story (a proverbial page-turner from the heartbreaking dedication to the last page), this book will not dissapoint. if you've heard Darnielle's music (like, um, Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton) you know the man can tell a story, and Roger's story--too real to be non-fiction and too passionate to be grouped with standard criticism--resonates through all the frustrations and humiliations I've ever experienced. if only I'd had Ozzy to guide me through it... I think I'll pick up Master of Realitiy and give it a listen while I re-read this.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. McCullough on May 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
Thanks to my brother Kevin for enlightening me regarding the existence of this book.

This is a unique addition to the 33 1/3 series. Instead of an in depth history and analysis of the the album here we have an epistolary novel written by John Darnielle (of The Mountain Goats). The narrator is a disaffected, institutionalized teenager, and later, the same narrator ten years later; and the format is prescribed journal entries and subsequent (unsent? unread?) letters to his counselor.

This little book holds up well on its own as a novel- I think it is brilliantly conceived and tremendously affecting. There is a lot to be read between the lines. If you want more facts about the album then read the Wikipedia entry for Master of Reality. The narrator of this book only guesses at the facts behind the making of the album - for example it is never even mentioned that the guitar and bass were de-tuned to C# creating the heavy, sludgy (groundbreaking?) sound. But the intuitive approach and emotional response to the album portrayed in this book is amazing.

Personally - bought the album when I was twelve and it was, along with Alice Cooper, one of my first journeys into non-mainstream music - and I have never looked back. I don't think I had ever, well, thought about this particular album as deeply as our narrator; however I think I might be able to write the little book about other specific albums.

If you are a fan of the album, or if you have never even heard the album, or if you have ever been a teenager, I recommend this short novel (read in one sitting).

Fun fact - before college John Darnielle used to work at the Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, California.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Natalie on July 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
I feel like I should start out by saying that I am an intensely dedicated fan of Darnielle's many outlets, whether it be his LPTJ blog, The Mountain Goats, The Extra Glenns, his contributions to Decibel, etc. etc. Let me say also that I am pretty sure most of the reviewers (though I haven't read them all) giving this a five star rating are similar in their positions.

I cannot blindly give this book a five, as much as I adore Mr. Darnielle. It was not perfect, as much as a enjoyed it. There were stumbles, in my opinion, where Roger became a little too repetitive, or where some things just seemed oversimplified. But as a whole, especially as his first book, I really enjoyed the book, and it was a quick read. I appreciated it even though I am not a well-versed fan of metal or anything. The character of Roger seemed to cover his bases enough that I could still understand what he was saying about the music--I think this is mostly in part not to his descriptions of the music itself, but to his feelings about it. Darnielle successfully creates emotional attachments which allowed me, as a reader, to sympathize, despite never having been locked up in a mental institution.

I think anyone who had even a remotely rough time in their adolescence and who turned to music to make their way through their troubles will thoroughly enjoy this book and be able to, in some extent, relate to Roger's troubles.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christopher J. Thompson on May 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
John Darnielle has been a writer i have enjoyed for some time now. Between his monthly editorials in Decibel magazine and his long running web zine (last plane to jakarta) I have read a good deal of his work. So I was excited to hear he has not only written a book, but a book about Sabbath. Metal is my absolute favorite and Darnielle's approach to metal from the point of view as a music fan, rather then singularly a metalhead, coupled with his deep insight of the obscure has been the drawing point for me to read his material. In this book he tackles one of the great albums from the first heavy metal band.

For those familiar with Sabbath, you know one could easily be engulfed by the amount of quality music they have released over their long history. The most popular release has always been they're sophomore release, Paranoid. With hits like the title track, "War Pigs", and "Iron Man", Paranoid was an album that made Black Sabbath a world name. Yet, Darnielle choose to write about Sabbath's less lauded third release. Master of Reality is an album full of Sabbath greats such as "Sweet Leaf", "Children of the Grave" and "Into The Void", but as Darnielle describes in the book, you'll never hear any of these songs waiting in line at the grocery store.

Choosing the path less traveled is a passion for Darnielle in his music exploration. In all of his writings he makes a connection with music that you will not find reiterated in the endless blogsphere. This can come from him writing about something different or him skillfully putting cognitive reality to word. In this book though, Darnielle writes a fictional tale of a boy institutionalized, and his cruddy life is explained through his eyes.
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