From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Mapping out a space between criticism and personal essay, writer and music fan Terzian has invited a double handful of contemporary writers to expound on the albums that they love. Benjamin Kunkel covers the Smiths, John Haskell discusses the Talking Heads, Joshua Ferris remembers Pearl Jam's debut, Sheila Heti considers the Annie soundtrack; their stories take readers to India, Ireland, Haiti, the Upper East Side of New York and beyond with consistently thoughtful, but wildly variant results. These love letters to albums also examine the inextricable connection between art forms; of particular note are essays by Mark Greif (Fugazi's Fugazi), Lisa Dierbeck (Pretenders' Pretenders), Asali Solomon (Gloria Estefan's Mi Tierra), Martha Southgate (The Jackson 5's Greatest Hits), Clifford Chase (The B-52's self-titled album) and editor Terzian (Miaow's Priceless Innuendo). Almost without fail, these essays exhibit a perfect blend of respect and irreverence, with an intoxicating intimacy; readers who love music will devour this collection, and beg for a second volume.
A particular subset of people, including editor Terzian, play the same pop records over and over, listening so closely that they internalize the lyrics until it seems the songs were written specifically about and for them. As a suburban adolescent hearing Joni Mitchell’s Hejira (about a woman in her thirties), Terzian felt he “was learning about what it meant to be an adult, about the many different ways of living a life.” Among the contemporary writers he asked to comment on songs or albums that similarly moved or inspired them, Benjamin Kunkel writes about the Smiths’ The Queen Is Dead, Alice Elliott Dark chooses Meet the Beatles!, and John Haskell offers his take on Talking Heads’ Remain in Light. Augmented by Joshua Ferris on Pearl Jam’s Ten, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) on the Eurythmics’ Savage, Lisa Dierbeck on Pretenders, Colm Tóíbín on Joni Mitchell’s Blue, James Wood on the Who’s Quadrophenia, and Claire Dederer on the original cast recording of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, they create a must for literary-minded pop fans. --June Sawyers