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Let it Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic Paperback – April 18, 2000
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"Let It Blurt tells one of the essential rock and roll stories with great affection and panache. Lester Bangs--paradigm, mystery, great writer, tragicomic presence--has been given the biography he deserves...A splendid book."
--Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn
"Lester Bangs lived fast, died young, and left a beautiful body of work. Jim DeRogatis, himself a gifted writer on rock and roll, knows both of Bangs's worlds--the music and the journalism--and has written an elegy for one of the few critics whose work is worth reading for itself, apart from its subjects."
"To those who knew him, Lester Bangs was a force of nature, 'larger than life' and all such biz. For a mere book to capture the full sweep of his mind/body at speed and at rest may be too tall an order, but Let It Blurt is a welcome stab indeed at the whole Lester thing."
From the Inside Flap
Let It Blurt is a scrupulously researched account of Lester Bangs's fascinating (if often tawdry and unappetizing) life story, as well as a window on rock criticism and rock culture in their most turbulent and creative years. It includes a never-before-published piece by Bangs, the hilarious "How to Be a Rock Critic," in which he reveals the secrets of his dubious, freeloading trade.
Top Customer Reviews
One of the salient points made by DeRogatis is that when Bangs wrote reviews, he used the word "we", so as to implicate the reading audience, "addressing his readers as fellow appreciators instead of mere consumers." In other words, Bangs was writing for the audience instead of to it. He was a music fan first, and a writer second. Now, however, reviewers seem more out to pitch product, or at the very least, to avoid confrontation or- God forbid- being blacklisted from a band or record company's party and/or press release invitation list.
As a character study/biography independent of a rock criticism history, the story of Lester Bangs is captivating. His celebrity was certainly unconventional, and on the periphery of the oft-told stories of rock stars. He had the addictive personality, the creativity, and the personal demons of a rock star, but communicated through a different- though overlapping- medium.Read more ›
Turning to the author, I think DeRogatis' strong point is definitely his exhaustive, perfectly detailed research. His prose -- nothing special beyond its dutiful journalistic clarity -- serves his years of investigation well. I guess when you're reading a book about a literary stylist like Lester, the biographer's writing style can pale in comparison to even the few short examples of Lester's writing included in the book. But perhaps that's just another instance of Lester's expansive personality overshadowing everything around him -- even the pages of his own biography.
This book tells the story of one of the greatest characters in rock and roll AND American culture. Lester belongs in the same league as Woody Guthrie, Jack Kerouac and Andy Kaufman (who, in certain pictures, I thought he eerily resembled) -- artists cursed with a singular voice who lived in a society that refused to let it blurt loud enough.
But while there are some interesting revelations about Lester's boyhood and events in his life, the book rarely does more than scratch the surface of Bangs' writing. Derogatis seems content to gather up numerous chunks of information and a few quotes from Lester, and decide that that alone should tell the story. And in one sense, I suppose it does, but can't help but feel that this book could use more depth. At times, Derogatis seems headed in that direction - periodically, he makes reference to some of Bangs' limitations, or acknowledges that Lester sometimes wasn't the greatest person in the world. I enjoy these tough looks at one of my literary idols - it makes his great pieces all the more impressive. But that's as far as the author will go, and the majority of the book is filled with the kind of pussy-footed trepidation that seperates intellectual criticism from the more suspect fan bio.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan, too, just like Derogatis. But given the opportunity to write about a man who was both talented and interesting, Derogatis only goes about halfway. There's still much to enjoy, and plenty of facts, anecdotes and gossip about the 70's rock scene to keep even the well-informed intrigued. Though disappointed, I still enjoyed it, and can only hope that it will help bring about a new and expanded anthology of Lester's work.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I received this book in a quick span of time & enjoyed reading the text itself. However, and this has continued to happen with the past few used books I've ordered on Amazon, that... Read morePublished 20 months ago by alex rubin
It must have been tough to add something new to the story of Lester Bangs, America's greatest rock critic, almost all of whose writing was mostly about himself. Read morePublished on May 5, 2014 by Tracy Deaton
Ordered and delivered as promised and what a great read I went to High School with Lester Bangs (he was one year behind me) he was a unique individual to say the least!Published on September 19, 2013 by Robert G. Singleton
This is THEE Biography on Lester Bangs. He was such an impressive writer and critic. A must for any fanPublished on December 30, 2012 by Theresa Taylor
I sincerely believe that the problem with this bio is not with the writer. I think he did a very good research about Lester, but for me the main problem was Lester itself. Read morePublished on December 13, 2011 by Luis S.
You must buy this book if you're interested in Lester Bangs. I don't think there is anything else, anywhere, where you can get all you need to know.Published on February 19, 2011 by styler
Lester Bangs was no mere rock critic. Bangs was a hurricane on the page and he didn't swallow the pill that all rock stars were special, let alone talented. Read morePublished on July 29, 2010 by Patty Templeton