This is my second giveaway win from Goodreads (of the current five) and I hate to say I got quite sidetracked and didn’t pick it up for a while. It’s a kindle edition, a nice bit of instant gratification that I’ve left collecting virtual dust for well over a month. It’s a fairly new book, published on the first of August this year (as I was moving into my current apartment).
The premise of this book is that each essay is written about a song or group of songs, most often a playlist of songs with related themes or subjects. Most of the essays were written by Greenman in some vague past, allowing them to represent a truer interpretation of each time period in his life that’s written about – at least that’s what the intro said, however, the majority of the essays read as though they were written in reflection.
There are so many genres of music, so many themes, so many overlaps between the genres and time periods present here – it’s clear that Greenman knows his stuff.
I really loved how witty Greenway’s writing could be; he encompassed some of my favorite elements of CNF. The realism, the sarcasm, and the introspection all came across as quite genuine. The fact that the book was written over a span of time and that each essay was written organically was refreshing. My issue with this was the uncertainty of time; though the songs can provide somewhat of a timeline in a few instances, there’s not a clear-cut timeline anywhere. I appreciated it in some ways, but it also lead me to read all of the writings as semi-present or eerily undefined in terms of time. “A long time ago,” etc wasn’t enough for me.
My least favorite element of the book was the frequent onslaught of song groupings; at times it was too much, I couldn’t quite appreciate each song the way I did when it was just one or two. The concept of them being like mixtapes was neat, but again, not my favorite.
Disclaimer: I didn’t take the time to listen to each of the songs before I read their respective essays, though it could have certainly heightened the experience. I might recommend that for a more immersive reading, though it would certainly make the book move slower and could be hard to balance in terms of reading/listening in varied settings. Personally, I read all over the place, so looking up the songs and taking pause to listen to all of them wasn’t doable during my reading.
If you’d like to get a feel for his writing, you can find my highlights from the text here.
I give the book a 6/10.