Tag Archives: Yesterday’s Papers

You Better Move On

cohen stones

The Sun & The Moon & The Rolling Stones by Rich Cohen (Spiegel & Grau, $30.00, 381 pages)

When I mentioned to a couple of Rolling Stones fan that I was reading the new book by Rich Cohen, they asked, “What’s new in the book?” I told them I didn’t know, as I had not finished reading it. Now that I’ve finished, I can answer the question. There’s nothing new here; it’s the same band bio as you’ll find in any book about the Stones or Mick Jagger. And it’s told in chronological order, so you can guess what’s coming up next even if you have just a smattering of knowledge about the old boys.

In theory, Rolling Stone reporter Cohen was going to tell a new and unique story because he spent some time with the group on tour. But that information is minimal and far from being substantively interesting. In fact, the only new factoid I came across is Cohen’s claim that Eric Clapton unsuccessfully auditioned for the group after Mick Taylor’s departure. According to Cohen, Ron Wood was selected because it was felt he would fit in better with the band’s quirky personalities. Well, maybe this is factual and maybe not.

rolling stones and eric

There are factual concerns. For example, Cohen writes that Jagger destroyed all of the outtakes of “Brown Sugar.” But anyone who owns the Russian-made Melodiya CD of Sticky Fingers possesses two outtakes.

Cohen makes a bold attempt at arguing that the Stones were “even greater than the Beatles” – clearly appealing to fanatics who might purchase his account. But he rather quickly dispenses with this, first admitting that Their Satanic Majesties Request was “terrible, a disastrous by-product of an overripe era.” And he proceeds to quote multiple sources regarding how sloppy and undisciplined the band is in rehearsals. So, he set up a straw man only to knock it down. Yawn.

children december's

All in all, there’s not much to see here, folks. You better move on.

Joseph Arellano

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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Yesterday’s Papers

Tabloid City: A Novel by Pete Hamill (Little, Brown and Company, $26.99, 288 pages)

“Someone’s got it in for me, they’re planting stories in the press.”   Bob Dylan  (Idiot Wind)

Pete Hamill’s Tabloid City chronicles the experiences of old-time newspaper man Sam Briscoe, and his struggles to keep his paper The New York World viable in the modern era of overly-saturated electronic and cable media.  

The story is told in datelines, rather than chapters.   Written in three parts, “Night”, “Day”, and “Night”, it basically takes place over a period of a day and a half – not accounting for flashbacks and the storytelling required to fill in certain gaps related to the characters’ lives and relationships.   This obviously choppy approach, which attempts to parallel the journalistic style and mimic the pace of New York city and newsroom life, both hits and misses.   At the beginning, it is difficult to sense any flow to the story or understand how the characters relate or why they’re important.   Once this is established, the story begins to flow properly.

Most of the characters are detached and wanting for love and/or acceptance.   They find the drive to keep moving through external means.   Sam, who describes himself as  married to the newspaper; Malik Watson, a Muslim zealot; Cynthia, a wealthy business woman and socialite; etc.

Tabloid City will be a pleaser for some.   It is fast paced, laced with intrigue, set in Manhattan, and – after a bit of a confusing start, the middle of the novel onward is quite enjoyable.   At this point, the reader can read in short bursts or extended periods of time without losing track of the story, or interest in it for that matter.

The ending falls a bit short.   It’s hard to figure exactly what purpose some of the characters serve; and, while the ending of the novel is tragic and had the potential to satisfy most readers it does not do so.   It is a bit disappointing that some of the characters who were very prominent early on did not play a more significant, fitting role in bringing the story to a close.

Recommended, although for a select audience.

Dave Moyer

A review copy was provided by the publisher.   Dave Moyer is the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel.

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