Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Book I'm Reading, an experiment

I haven't written a full-fledged book review for publication in 22 years. 22 years ago I wrote for Who!sNew Magazine. (I think that's how they logoed it.) Rather than the scholastic weekly publication it obviously sounds like, W!N was the next step in free-on-the-cigarette-machine-in-the-rock-club weeklies: a glossy magazine replacing that old folded tabloid with sex club and escort ads in the back. Which is what it had been a month before I got a free ticket to see Return to Oz, and they printed my review:

"Fairuza Balk is Dorothy Gale."

That was the review. Not the title. The review. That's what they printed. I wrote 350 words about Baum, Oz, shared thematic points of Oz in movies, pop culture, and literature. And the kid who micromanaged each page of "his" magazine printed those 5 words. And since those words are an actor's name (2 words) and a character's name (2 more words), my only visible creative addition to the article was the simple present tense one-word third person singular form of the verb "to be."
My next assignment was reporting on the first Boston appearance of a young performer who kept staring at my date during the backstage press wine. That performer has gone on to sell 23 million copies of the album she was promoting at the time. The issue of W!N that held my piece was "lost at the printer." I left W!N before I could see the publication of my review of Jerry Hall's Tall Tales: Mick Jagger's Long Time Love: From Texas to the Top ! My relationship with the "managing editor" had declined. He insisted I also sell advertising space and set up free "mag placement." I suggested copies on coffee machines in offices. Imagine if I'd dropped the soda machine bomb I was secreting. Posturing or not, the public was denied the singular thrill of my take on Chilton's Import Car Repair Manual 1985, the right to review I had won in the office short straw contest. The little office in whatsisname's dad's garage closed when the magazine belly-upped. I blame the lack of phone sex ads.
But now anyone can star in their own on-line magazine, or "blog." This is encouraging and egalitarian, but there are still personality-disordered weenies who insist upon wasting trees with their ill-conceived and poorly-executed "magazines." I'm still amazed that the idiot who publishes one of those rags locally just throws away other (albeit just as crappy) publications in the dumpster behind his own building, so more people can be said to read his. That's just bad sport. It's like the only radio station in town calling itself "number one" in town. I have the number one blog titled H.M.S. Impossible.

(insert review here)
(okay, maybe next time)


Julie said...

So... how was the Jerri Hall book?

ThirdMate said...

Hi Julie!

I've always loved Jerry Hall. Pretty and smart, in that 70's-80's way. I couldn't even tell the parts that the ghostwriter was making up. Most importantly: Lots of pictures. That's what I remember. I think the review is still under W!N's copyright so I'm not allowed to quote me here.

The Zevon chronicle, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, is next. Different... tone. I just have those last few "Don't read me cuz then the book'll be over and then what'll ya do" pages left.

ThirdMate said...

It's also the only book I know that uses a colon twice in its title. Now, that's the Eighties.