The Book Report: Potential Stocking Stuffers, Bathroom Reading and In-flight Entertainment

Late autumn is a busy time for publishing houses as they scramble to get major releases on the shelves before Thanksgiving, paving the way for another spirit-sucking stream of holiday-themed cookbooks. This season’s episode of Publisher’s Clearing House is particularly flush with big time rock star “literature,” and a few readers will have these books on their Xmas wish lists.

All book detail, synopsis and trade reviews from The Guardian Bookstore unless otherwise indicated. Prices are generally omitted because really, can you put a price on the sheer pleasure and enjoyment of reading?

Waging Heavy Peace

Neil Young


Publisher: Viking

Publication date: October 25, 2012

Synopsis: Neil Young is an iconic figure in the history of rock and pop culture (inducted not once but twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). This title offers an overview of his personal life and musical career, spanning his time in bands Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash, and his role as the patron saint of the grunge scene.

Trade review: Potentially the music memoir of the year as enigmatic rock icon Neil Young tells the story of his remarkable life and career. His songs are filled with tantalizing lyrics and mesmerizing references, much of which will be explained in this book. His private life has been a struggle against ill-health (his own and his children’s), which he will write about very movingly, and he also covers his charitable work and social campaigning.

Excerpt from random review: Wesley Stace, The Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2012. “Waging Heavy Peace takes the form of a diary, a life-in-the-day structure that gives Mr. Young room to maneuver, as he takes us on a wander round his memory palace—a drive down the coastal highway, stopping off occasionally for a meeting with the CEO of Warner Music Group to demonstrate PureTone (the audio format he is developing that will deliver music in perfect quality to the downloader) or for a trip to the Costco (‘You can find anything’). The book is erratic (if everyone else weren’t going to do it, the urge to compare its structure to one of his guitar solos would be irresistible), charmingly mundane (a paean to his Sonicare Toothbrush calls it ‘a product I am very impressed with’) and comically repetitive (almost everything in the book is said twice and, if Mr. Young is worked up—as he frequently is—many more times than that). The book contains so many Thank Yous that you occasionally wonder whether you’ve stumbled into the acknowledgements by mistake.”

BSM reaction: Can’t wait to get our paws on the paperback edition.

Hallo Sausages: The Lyrics of Ian Dury

Jemmina Dury

Hardcover ISBN 9781408812143, 320 pages (book+CD)

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Publication date: October 25, 2012

Synopsis: The only complete collection of Ian Dury’s lyrics, illustrated with previously unseen material.

Trade review: Here for the first time are Ian Dury’s collected lyrics – not only material that was released, but also things that have been gathered from old demos, song fragments and other sources by his daughter Jemima. The book is arranged chronologically, and has been designed by renowned artist and designer Jake Tilson, who was Dury’s brother-in-law, using original scrawled notes and a miscellany of scraps that inspired them. The book also comes with an exclusive CD of previously unreleased material. An excellent homage to a unique artist.

Random review: Terry Staunton, Record Collector Magazine, date unavailable.  “Even when they only appear before you on the printed page, it’s nigh-on impossible to read Dury’s words without hearing his voice in your head, such was the singularly strong personality of the great man. ‘Lyrics’ barely does this collection justice, as it’s clearly the work of a true poet, an orator of unbridled eloquence and imagination. The index alone is telling, Dury’s daughter Jemima opting to present the material arranged by the first line of each song or soliloquy (160 in all), not unlike a Christian hymn book. It’s a breathtaking catalogue of comic fancy, philosophical insight  and beautifully descriptive narrative that stands strong without the embellishment of music from The Blockheads or others. ‘Dad was a brilliant poet,’ Jemima writes in her introduction, ‘but he was surprisingly shy of that title, he found the notion too romantic and highbrow; he preferred being called a wordsmith.’ Twelve years after his death, Dury’s wordsmithery (a corruption he would no doubt have approved of) is as full of life as it was the first time he put pen to paper.”

BSM reaction: Struggling to name one song by Ian Dury and the Blockheads, so £18.75 is a big stretch for this book. Wait until it’s available in ebook.

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