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Talking Heads' Fear of Music (33 1/3) Paperback – April 26, 2012


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Talking Heads' Fear of Music (33 1/3) + David Bowie's Low (33 1/3) + Brian Eno's Another Green World (33 1/3 series)
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Product Details

  • Series: 33 1/3
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (April 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441121005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441121004
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 4.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jonathan Lethem is one of the most acclaimed American novelists of his generation. His books include Motherless Brooklyn, The Fortress of Solitude, and Chronic City. His essays about James Brown and Bob Dylan have appeared in Rolling Stone. He lives in Claremont, California.

More About the Author

Jonathan Lethem was born in New York and attended Bennington College.

He is the author of seven novels including Fortress of Solitude and Motherless Brooklyn, which was named Novel of the Year by Esquire and won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Salon Book Award, as well as the Macallan Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger.

He has also written two short story collections, a novella and a collection of essays, edited The Vintage Book of Amnesia, guest-edited The Year's Best Music Writing 2002, and was the founding fiction editor of Fence magazine.

His writings have appeared in the New Yorker, Rolling Stone, McSweeney's and many other periodicals.

He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

Maybe it begins with this book.
B. McGowan
No one could possibly write an essay about Fear of Music that was this pretentious, this smug, this self-absorbed.
Internonymous
It would have been nice to include a few quotes from the band on the actual making of the record.
Mark Bowes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By agnostic on October 22, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I hate to be critical of this author, because I consider him to be one of our greatest working novelists. Fortress of Solitude is probably my favorite novel of the past 20 years, at least. But he should not write music criticism. There are hardly any good ideas in this book, and it is groan-inducingly bad in many places. I would never have finished it if it weren't so short. It is almost entirely devoid of true inspiration or insight. The main theme of the book is this: This album really, really blew my mind when I was a precocious teenager in the greatest city in the whole world! Variations on this theme are interspersed with dull, wooden attempts at snappy but probing exegesis. You can feel him counting the words to meet his quota.

I'm sorry to pan this, but I consider it a public service. Upped a star because of how much I respect Lethem's fiction and other brilliant essays. I can't hang with this man intellectually, but I also can't hang with this book.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By B. McGowan on August 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
Perhaps I've been out of the loop, but the question I have reading Jonathan Lethem's "Talking Heads Fear Of Music" is when did intentional Attention Deficit Disorder become celebrated with prose in popular culture? Maybe it begins with this book. I have tried repeatedly to plough through the author's series of ramblings on The Talking Heads "Fear Of Music," and each time, I lasted about three pages before calling it quits. It's not a question of my inability to scavenge through a torrent of art history debris. I've been confronted with dada, surrealism, shamanism, post WW I Lost Generation, Post WWII Eisenhowerism/John Cage(ism) and so on for many years now.
The only cohesion on offer in this zippy little book is a continual reference to the author's pre- teenage years when he first heard the album. He refers to this as, "the boy in the room," era of his development. It was nifty the first couple of times he used the term, and then it wore out its welcome as a structural point in his meta essay. And honestly, we don't know very much about this boy in the room. Did he also play with G.I. Joe? Why was this album his only friend, and possibly a substitute for something lacking? He might have explored that a little. He mentions having a college girlfriend, and sitting on a mattress on the floor in a student's apartment with this friend, listening to Al Green, and attempting to explain why Al Green is a luminary, not only in R and B circles, but in the wider American popular culture during the Vietnam years. I enjoyed reading about his college years, and I wanted to hear more, but that sort of content was meager.
The only thing I seem to be getting from this romp through experimentalism, and I'm not sure if I'll try again to pick it up to make sense of it (Oh, I get it, Stop Making Sense!
Read more ›
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Cliff Milledge on May 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
If you like Talking Heads (and come on, who doesn't?), and if you like Jonathan Lethem... or maybe a better way to phrase that: if you are interested in the way that Lethem's brain works, with the tangential side comments, brilliantly multifaceted paranoid obsessions and intertextual references, and finally, if you are fascinated by downtown New York in the late 70s, then it doesn't really get any better than this, does it? Lethem doesn't live in New York anymore, but it's obvious that New York has left a deep impression on the wiring of his brain, and he finds a sympathetic open circuit to plug into in this exploration of Fear of Music.

If you want to know the specific microphones Eno used to record the album, or what sorts of things the band members were fighting about when the album was produced, this may not be the 33 1/3 you are looking for. I actually love that sort of thing too, but this book is about more than that. The book covers Talking Heads, but it also covers Jonathan Lethem...and there are shades of Lionel Essrog and Perkus Tooth thrown in for good measure. It's a privilege to watch this guy's mind at work, and it's also a pretty wild ride.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By George W. Davis on April 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
I've read 'Gravity's Rainbow' and 'Infinite Jest'. I'm a reader who has NEVER in his life had to put a book down in response to being annoyed at the writer's style. He clearly loves his subject but I have tried, repeatedly, picking this mess up after setting it down for a few weeks and I just can't do it.
It's been six months, Mr Lethem. I've made it to page 76 (where side 2 starts up) and there's no place in my brain for your endlessly disjointed prose. I may try one of your novels for curiosity's sake but only if someone else pays for it. I'll be forever shying away from your name when I see it in my favorite book store. Sorry, dude, but you're giving me cramps.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By P. Ambrose on May 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Quick and simple, Jonathan Lethem has written a majestic tribute to one of rock music's turning point masterpieces. If you are a Talking Heads fan of any degree, you must read this. Don't brush your teeth or cut your hair, just add to cart.
Beautifully written from without a doubt an adoring fan. Puts the T-Heads into a great perspective. Thank You, Jonathan. The Heads have never been heralded as the geniuses they were. Pure aural art. (And visual when you have the vinyl editions of course!)
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Mark Bowes on June 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the worst in the series. No insight into the making of the music. Simply the author's masturbatory ramblings and self-satisfying hyperbole. It would have been nice to include a few quotes from the band on the actual making of the record. Skip this one altogether. A total waste of a read.
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