Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Wish You Were Here
Leslie Simon
(Harper Paperbacks)

Well, would you look at this? It's Holly's first Sleazegrinder book review! (As an aside, this is actually the second book that I have been sent to review, but the first one was so dreadful that I elected to ignore it. If you come across it in a bookstore someday, might I suggest that you ignore it, as well? Ah Christ, I feel guilty even typing the title so you'll be able to recognize, and, therefore, avoid, it. If you really must know, you can message me. I'd offer to send you my copy, but I'm using it for scrap paper.)

Okay, where were we? Ah yes, Wish You Were Here, the second bound literary offering from 's Leslie Simon, coauthor of Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture. (I am infinitely thankful that I didn't have to read that one, let me assure you.) In this "essential guide to your favorite music scenes-from punk to indie and everything in between," Simon focusses on eleven influential American musical hotspots, providing a brief history of each scene, its major players (including bands, albums, record labels, promoters, and clubs), and a handy Lonely-Planet-esque guide to the area's notable venues and eateries. Each chapter also offers a snide comedic bit poking fun at the various scenes and their accompanying scenesters. Simon writes like a true grinder of sleaze, albeit one raised on a consumer diet of Gossip Girl, Perez Hilton, Dashboard Confessional, and Diet Coke. But she does know her musical history, and her knowledge of popular culture is frightening in its scope. (More names were dropped in the writing of this book than flakes of snow fell in southern Ontario this past winter. And we got a lot of fucking snow, man.) Would I recommend this book? Sure. Maybe not to hardcore sleaze fans, because you probably don't give a shit about where Conor Oberst played his first gig, but I'd recommend it to fledgling music fans raised on consumer diets of Gossip Girl, Perez Hilton, Dashboard Confessional, and Diet Coke in a heartbeat. She's smart, sarcastic, and fun, this Leslie girl, and she also recognizes Adam Levine (from Maroon 5)'s inherent douchebaggery, and that definitely counts for something.

(As an aside, one thing that drove me bonkers about this book was the footnotes. The notes themselves were always informative and/or entertaining, but the asterixes used to direct the reader to said footnotes were printed in what has to be the world's tiniest font. Most of the time, I wasn't even aware of a footnote's existence until I saw the text there at the bottom of the page, and then I had to scan the page with a magnifying glass to locate the little fucker to which the footnote corresponded. Harper Collins, if you're reading, might I recommend fixing this in subsequent printings? Your readers will thank you.)

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