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The Fine Wisdom and Perfect Teachings of the Kings of Rock and Roll: A Memoir Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 4, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061713473
  • ASIN: B005Q6E6EE
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,107,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Not your typical rock tell-all. . . . An entertaining coming-of-age story that cloaks a social critique of post-Sixties USA.” (Rolling Stone (3 ½ stars) )

“A near-perfect memoir.... In this erudite, coming-of-age riot, the author deftly navigates the purgatorial rites of passage between university and professional life, developing insightful social critiques and candid self-evaluations along the way.... [Edmundson is] an honest, poetic and hilariously entertaining narrator.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review) )

“Everything you want a coming-of-age book to be: hilarious, harrowing, and ultimately inspiring. . . . Brims with sparkling observations about everything from drugs, sex and rock and roll to movies, career, and friendship. Truly, there is something arresting and wonderful on every page.” (Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules: An Eater's Manual and The Omnivore's Dilemma )

“A compelling and accomplished memoir recounting the dissolution of the sixties and the beginning of the modern, more cynical era that followed. . . Candidly describes Mark Edmundson’s journey as a lost twenty-something seeking meaning through sex, drugs, Marxism, rock & roll, and ultimately, teaching.” (Philipp Meyer, author of American Rust )

“Edmundson doesn’t just chronicle, he channels, the epoch of rock.... He makes us feel its hopes; its confusions; its genuine revelations…. Concert security dude, cabbie, bouncer: these jobs provide him critical lenses on a succession of cultural moments, and on the never-ending task of becoming an adult.” (Matthew Crawford, author of Shop Class as Soulcraft )

From the Back Cover

After graduating from college in 1974, Mark Edmundson leaves Vermont to seek his destiny—a quest he knows involves rock and roll and America's high court of mischief and ambition, New York City. Shepherded by a carousing, Marx-quoting friend, he moves into a grungy apartment and embarks on a dream career lugging amps for rock's biggest stars: the Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and the Allman Brothers.

But as time wears on, Edmundson finds himself at odds with life in his adopted city and drifts through a regimen of late-night cab driving and radical politics, increasingly detached from the hopes he nursed back in school. Prodded and enlightened along the way by a cast of rogue mentors—his "Kings (and Queens) of Rock and Roll"—Edmundson checks out of New York and careens across the country in search of the elusive "it": the perfect vocation, his slightly crazy, ideal way of life.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
His stories are funny, sharp and entertaining.
Beth Sanchez
I love The Fine Wisdom; it's an impressively intelligent and unsentimental book about class and character and calling and fate (especially, for me, class).
D. Shields
Very much as Charles Newman's great (unknown) book, A Child's History of America, did for the late 60s.
Jason Bell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Meyer on May 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I first discovered Mark Edmundson through his earlier memoir, TEACHER - ONE WHO MADE THE DIFFERENCE, and have been gobbling up his books as soon as he produces them, ever since. (WHY READ? and THE DEATH OF SIGMUND FREUD I consider masterpieces). Only more remarkable than Edmundson's eloquent and evocative prose is the astonishing range of his interests, from culture to pop culture, from history to introspection, from movies to poetry, from philosophy to music - Edmundson writes gracefully yet passionately about all. He is observant, he is tolerant and he is funny. His latest book, a memoir entitled The Fine Wisdom and Perfect Teachings of Rock and Roll, is one of the most enjoyable - and moving - books of its kind I have ever read. Edmundson describes with candor and courage, his own growing up, his on-going search for a life with meaning and all the various paths he took (and is still taking) to get him to his elusive destination. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading, people and life.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jason Bell on May 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been reading this man since Nightmare On Main Street, a cogent analysis on the very beginning of the horror-porn genre. Can anyone say SAW? Gee, did he call that one?

Fairly recently, in addition to the role as an in your face cultural critic, Edmundson has started another track in his career with the memoir-as-cultural- mirror book. "The Fine Wisdom..." is the latest installment and, for me at least, it does a better and more entertaining job of limning the oft-maligned 70s than anything else I've read.

Very much as Charles Newman's great (unknown) book, A Child's History of America, did for the late 60s.

No decade is a joke. There were millions of us who, like the author, stumbled, stood up, experimented, judged, matured or didn't, and finally found our souls and settled on vocations (default or otherwise) in those years. As he writes, it was both easier and harder than it is now: "growing up" wasn't lionized, success wasn't defined; there were few auto-tracks to law school-business school-investment banking to either cleave to or reject. You had to make yourself up--something that is always true, but gets disguised when you live in a society of career-path freeways and financial fear, as we live in now.

Edmunson is consistantly ahead of the curve, and I don't know how he does it. If you were growing up then, or if your parents were, you should read this book as a hilarious and fascinating overture of young life in the very different country that shaped many of the souls in positions of cultural and political power in contemporary America.

Then buy and read The Death of Sigmund Freud--a title that sounds like Novocaine, and reads like Le Carre.

He also/always just writes crazy good.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Beth Sanchez on May 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a really wonderful book. It's an honest look at a man graduating from college and trying to make his way in the world. Edmundson, like a lot of young people, is a quester; he's looking for what he calls "it", the way of life meant especially for him. And he looks in a lot of interesting places: driving a cab, toting amps on a stage crew, hiking in the Colorado mountains and even working in a disco. Edmundson is a terrific storyteller. His stories are funny, sharp and entertaining. As he passes from job to job, chapter to chapter, he conveys something that sounds a lot like wisdom.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. Slouka on June 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
When I was given this book as a graduation present, I didn't think much of it, as I'm not a frequent reader and tend to be allergic to preachy coming-of-age stories. However, I was taken aback by Edmundson's book in the best way possible; it is simultaneously witty, lewd, and touching, and written with such voice and heart that it makes it difficult to put down. Edmundson dodges cliches and pontificates like the uncle we all wish we had, reflecting on not just his highs and lows working as a stagehand but also on those transitive periods in which we struggle to make sense of ourselves and the world around us, in such a conversational style you feel as if he's sitting down with you. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't enjoy this book as much or more than I did, and I recommend it without hesitation to anyone looking for a great read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rock 'n' Reader on May 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Edmundson's book is not just exuberant, not just hilarious, not just consummately well-written and full of juicy moments of every sort, but really reflective about becoming a grown-up in the America of the 70s. His stints as a cabdriver, a roadie, a bartender, a bouncer, and a hippie teacher are deliciously described, with plenty of bounce and fascinating reflections on his former self--reflections that apply to the rest of us too, and that are sometimes gentle, sometimes stinging. There's so much fun on every page, and lots of insight, too. I've been recommending it left and right since I read it a few days ago--and I know I'm going to be rereading it pretty soon. You won't be able to put this one down...worth it not just for the wonderful nuggets strewn everywhere, but for the quester's style and stance that informs it throughout. Take a look inside and see whether you're hooked. You don't have to remember Jefferson Starship, or disco, or the gritty ebullient mishmosh that was New York in the late 70s, to go for this one, but those of us who do will have extra reasons for delight!
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