From School Library Journal
Adult/High School - This book reinterprets songs, using the words, structure, and/or mood to create works that are influenced by the source but are wholly unique. Lester Bangs, famed critic of '70s and '80s rock music, opens with "Maggie May," a story spun out from the Rod Stewart hit of the same name. Through inflamed Kerouac-tinged prose, this tale of an up-and-coming rock star having a relationship with an older woman is an interesting commentary on the life of a music idol. The anthology continues with many different approaches, 24 in all. Touré's "I Shot the Sheriff" transforms the Bob Marley anthem into a wonderful fable about standing up for oneself. Neal Pollack's "Death in the Alt-Country," inspired by Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried," is about a musician's wake, but also criticizes much of the country and alt-country music of today. "The National Anthem" by Jonathan Lethem is written as a letter to a friend describing a failing love life and is based more on the general mood of Yo La Tengo's "Speeding Motorcycle" than on anything specifically mentioned in the lyrics. This literate, highly readable collection creates wonderful experiences for music lovers. - Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale
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Thematic anthologies can be a mixed bag. The short stories collected here, based on popular songs and featuring some of the trendier authors of the day (most of them seem to have some affiliation with Dave Eggers), range from inspired to mediocre and tackle songs by such artists as Jeff Buckley, Tom Waits, and the Foo Fighters. Acclaimed late rock critic Lester Bangs, dead two decades now, launches the compilation with a "found" work that probably should have remained lost. Based on Rod Stewart's "Maggie Mae," this opener leaves a bad taste marring much of the work that follows. Heidi Julavitz sets the bar much higher with her comical take on Cat Power's cover of "I Found a Reason," and Neal Pollack uses Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" to reveal posers in the alt-country scene. Contributor Zev Borow's comment on this venture hits the nail on the head: "I always thought Dylan songs were short stories, only better." Also included are stories by Jonathan Lethem, Aimee Bender, and J. T. Leroy. Benjamin SegedinCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved