Wednesday, September 12, 2007


The Book: Lou Reed, PASS THRU FIRE: The Collected Lyrics. Hyperion, 2000 (first edition). Fine book in fine dust jacket.
First read: 2000
Owned since: 2000

True, I've only owned this book for seven years, but I've decided this blog will include books I plan to keep as well as books I've already kept a while. Besides, this book's already made one cross-country move with me, so it's already survived one big culling.

It is what it says it is: Lou Reed's lyrics, from The Velvet Underground & Nico through 2000's Ecstasy, an album I don't own. Aside from a short introduction, the book includes no commentary or notes, and the only photographs are of the album art. But the book's design is original and arresting, with words spilling off pages, shaped into question marks and other designs, and -- for all of Transformer -- printed as white on black, in increasingly blurry type. The lyrics from The Velvet Underground Loaded appear to be tear-stained. Pass Thru Fire is book as performance art, which is no more than I'd expect from Lou Reed.

I bought this book to give as a gift -- I'm not saying to whom, because that person reads this blog -- and decided to keep it for myself. That rarely happens; it's much more usual that I'll find a book, love it, and give it to everyone who'll take a copy from me. Over the years I've given away dozens of copies of The Deptford Trilogy, Irvin Yalom's When Nietzsche Wept, Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea, Anne Tyler's Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant ... the list goes on, most recently including John Connolly's The Book of Lost Things and Laura Lippman's What the Dead Know.

Why I decided I needed this book more than my friend did, I don't know; but it still gives me great pleasure to have it.

Happy birthday today to Frau Susanne Schulz, and many more bright and happy adventures to come.

Five Random Songs

"Sunday Bloody Sunday," U2. I like U2, but admit I like the earlier stuff best. If that makes me a geezer, fine -- I'm a geezer.

"Thousands are Sailing," The Pogues. Wow, how appropriate is this -- the great saga of the Irish immigration to New York, boiled down to 5:29. And I'm on my way to New York today, so I too will dance up and down the street in Brendan Behan's footsteps.

"Eskimo," Damien Rice. Huh -- is the shuffle set to "Irish musicians only" today? This is a long, long, long song, of which the first half was an indie single. It's worth listening to the whole thing, if you're not doing anything else for the rest of the day. Fast forward...

"Gloria's Eyes," Bruce Springsteen. From Human Touch, an album I've always considered underrated.

"Murray," Pete Yorn. I will always associate this album (Music for the Morning After) with the strange, sad autumn of 2001.

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