FEAR OF MUSIC A virtuoso performance by a writer at the peak of his powers, tackling one of his great obsessions: Talking Heads.
It's the summer of 1979. A fifteen-year-old boy listens to WNEW on the radio in his bedroom in Brooklyn. A monotone voice (it's the singer's) announces into dead air in between songs "The Talking Heads have a new album, it's called Fear of Music" – and everything spins outward from that one moment.
Jonathan Lethem treats Fear of Music (the third album by the Talking Heads, and the first produced by Brian Eno) as a masterpiece – edgy, paranoid, funky, addictive, rhythmic, repetitive, spooky and fun. He scratches obsessively at the album's songs, guitars, rhythms, lyrics, packaging, downtown origins, and legacy, showing how Fear of Music hints at the directions (positive and negative) the band would take in the future. Lethem transports us again to the New York City of another time – tackling one of his great adolescent obsessions and illuminating the ways in which we fall in and out of love with works of art.
“His achievement in Fear of Music is to let his personal passion for the album inform his thoughts on it with a vital urgency, without ever allowing those feelings to run rampant and obscure the work at hand. …[It is] a powerful piece of scholarship on a band that deserves, and whose work holds up to, close examination of the serious kind Lethem does here. [Lethem] revels in Fear of Music's strain, the way it encompasses punk and disco, aggression and passivity, paranoia and resolve, gleefully dancing its way off the brink. This ain't no party, indeed.”
“The collision of Lethem and Talking Heads makes perfect sense. Both can't escape being identified with New York – or, in Lethem's case, Brooklyn – and despite working in disparate modes, each brings the formalism and precision of the high arts to popular forms.”
A cornucopia of remarks
on art, plagiarism, used bookstores, James Brown, Nathanael West, Norman Mailer, grafitti, Donald Sutherland's buttocks, the difference between White Elephants and Termites, why superhero movies are no genre at all, and the problem of being a novelist in the 21st century.
THE EXEGESIS OF PHILIP K DICK Edited by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem
Based on thousands of pages of typed and handwritten notes, journal entries, letters, and story sketches, The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick is the magnificent and imaginative final work of an author who dedicated his life to questioning the nature of reality and perception, the malleability of space and time, and the relationship between the human and the divine. Edited and introduced by Pamela Jackson and Jonathan Lethem, this will be the definitive presentation of Dick's brilliant, and epic, final work. ARRIVING NOV 7 · FIND OUT MORE>