The Memory Business

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1. Billy Joel had a contract to write a memoir, but got cold feet. Too bad. We know this Long Island boy can write, and I bet he had some stories to tell. The alleged book (my personal guess is that he never began it, though the cover artwork was finished and released) was supposed to have been called The Book of Joel.

2. You know I've been wanting to read this Long Island boy's life story. Jay-Z's recent semi-memoir Decoded had its moments, but Jay hardly dug deep. Good hiphop memoirs or biographies are rare, but I eagerly snapped up Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office, a new unauthorized biography by business writer Zack O'Malley Greenburg, who has covered hip-hop culture and money for Forbes magazine. I suppose it works as a business book, but I found it very disappointing. This white boy, unfortunately, does not know hiphop. The author also seems to think Jay-Z's best years must be right now (naturally, because this is when he's making the most money) which proves, once again, that he doesn't know anything about hiphop.

3. Excellent poetry blogger Ron Silliman ponders whether or not to quit the game: "What was once the newest thing on the block has by now become normative, even predictable." I sometimes start to feel this way about Litkicks, but I keep things interesting around here by changing the rules for myself. Like, "write only about philosophy on weekends". Seems to keep me sticking around.

4. Exactly as I predicted, Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad has won the Morning News Tournament of Books, really the best literary fiction contest around.

5. Yes, social networking is literature. You can turn your Facebook page into a book, and why not? Here's what Facebook has in common with literature: they're both in the memory business.

6. From the Rumpus, how to deal with book-deal jealousy.

7. Sarah Weinman presents You Can't Be a Good Literary Critic Unless You ....

8. Lars Ulrich of Metallica will play a role in a new HBO film about Ernest Hemingway. I like this idea.

9. Hunter S. Thompson interviews Keith Richards.

10. One more on rock memoirs, I've really been digging Kathy Valentine's twitter memoir of her years with the Go-Gos and beyond. Her observations are piquant, her stories honest and personal. The fact that folks like Bob Dylan and Clem "Elvis Ramone" Burke make appearances doesn't hurt. Valentine seems to be keeping the twitter feed under wraps for now (you have to ask nicely to follow it, and read it backwards) but I hope she publishes or self-publishes it in book form -- forwards -- once it's done. Anyway, brava so far.

11. Really, we're all just in the memory business.

6 Responses to "The Memory Business"

Rock memoirs have the wind in their back indeed. Chuck Sambuchino from F+W Publishing called them: "the male pendant to Harlequin novels", which kinda validate you argument that they are taking a place into the pulp rotation, instead of being a legit work of revelations and insight about rock and roll liftestyle.

Which kinda gives me an idea for a story...

Anyway, keep up the good work with LitKicks, you have a faithful reader here.

by Steve on

Ummm... Levi, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Lars is 'in' the movie but not actually playing Hemingway (be still my bleating heart):

"The film, now shooting in San Francisco, stars Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman in the two eponymous roles, with Ulrich playing Dutch documentary filmmaker Joris Ivens." - Flavorwire

He actually looks pretty damn spot on as a Dutch filmmaker.

The real questin here is why are Nicole & Clive doing an HBO movie?

by Levi Asher on

Yeah, I guess you're right -- thanks for the correction! Fixed above.

HBO actually has really good movies & series, like Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, Temple Grandin, and Real Time With Bill Maher!

by Milton on

I’ll be honest, the first Hemingway book I ever read was “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” when I was 13. I would love to say I picked this one in particular due to some nascent invented nostalgia for the doomed romance inherent in the Spanish Civil War, but who am I kidding – it was entirely because of that stupid Metallica song.

I read that unauthorized Jay-Z bio too (after running across what seemed like two dozen promotional copies scattered around here and there), and agree – it’s pretty bad. It’s never a good idea to approach a subject when your interest in them (and your background) has nothing to do with the primary reason anyone would want to read about them. It would be like reading a Hemingway bio by a fishing expert who’s only interested in the specific types of tackle the man used when he lived in the Keys, and evaluates his writing primarily by the fishing references contained therein.

Also, book-deal jealousy is one of the biggest motivating factors in my life. If I learned to deal with it, I’d be lost for sure.

Oh those rockers! Bon Jovi had a book (as a band) that was scheduled for publication in Nov 2007 (postponed by publisher Flying Dolphin Press) - it seems b/c band disagreements on what to disclose (divorces, alcohol etc).

I found you, Levi, after looking up stuff on the beats! Loved that audition for On The Road way back in 1995 (lotta years ago indeed but Francis Ford Coppola - wow!)

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