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Everything is an afterthought : the life and writings of Paul Nelson /

Main Author:
Other Authors: Nelson, Paul, 1936-2006.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Fantagraphics Books, 2011
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Paul Nelson was, according to Bob Dylan, "a folk-music scholar"who later wrote criticism at Rolling Stone as the last in a great tradition ofrecord-review editors that included Jon Landau, Dave Marsh, and Greil Marcus.But in 1982, Nelson walked away from it all -- Rolling Stone, his friends,and rock 'n' roll. By the time he died in his New York Cityapartment in 2006 at the age of 70, almost everything he'd written hadbeen relegated to back issues of old music magazines. With Paul Nelson'sposthumous blessing, Kevin Avery spent four years researching and writingEverything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writing of Paul Nelson. This uniqueanthology-biography compiles Nelson's best works (some of it previouslyunpublished) while also providing a vivid account of his private and publiclives. Avery interviewed almost 100 of Paul Nelson's friends, family, andcolleagues, including several of the artists about whom he'd written.

Review by Library Journal Review

That there are pundits who have made careers out of pronouncing criticism dead would've deeply rankled the late Paul Nelson, whose dedication to film and music ran so deep that he routinely withheld copy if it didn't achieve his standard of emotional intelligence. As journalist Avery documents in this cohesive biography--cum-first anthology of the onetime Rolling Stone record review editor's oeuvre, Nelson was a gifted early practitioner of new journalism and, though a child of the Sixties folk and rock counterculture, one of its most vocal critics. Bob Dylan probably received from Nelson as many pointed reality checks as he did gushing valentines. Reading his inconceivably insightful profiles of Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Warren Zevon, and Rod Stewart helps make sense of a needlessly guilt- and disappointment-laden life-here was a -hyper-romantic Midwesterner by birth but a New Yorker by necessity who thought he could transcend mundane cruelties by dedicating himself to the popular arts. VERDICT Seamlessly incorporating the perspectives of Nick Tosches, Robert Christgau, and Jann Wenner, Avery has crafted both a cautionary tale and a celebration of a noir-influenced writer who deserves a place alongside Lester Bangs for his ability to live, always, in the music. Devotees of folk, establishment rock 'n' roll, and pulp fiction will rue not having discovered Nelson sooner. [See also the Avery-edited Conversations with Clint: Paul Nelson's Lost Interviews with Clint Eastwood, 1979-1983, coming in October from Continuum.-Ed.]-Heather -McCormack, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.