Steven Hyden is the music critic at Uproxx and has appeared on such websites as Pitchfork, A.V. Club, Grantland (RIP), etc. He is also the host of the excellent podcast Celebration Rock. Twilight of the Gods is his second book following 2016’s Your Favorite Band is Killing Me. In this latest book, Hyden focuses on the classic rock he collected as a teenager growing up in Wisconsin. Rock music fans in the 40ish age range, especially those from the Canadian prairies and American Midwest, will find much to love and identify with here as Hyden is often very funny, a bit nerdy yet offers interesting perspectives on a wide range of music including several pages on his love of Phish.
With a civic election currently happening in my hometown of Winnipeg, Hyden’s look back at Chicago’s Disco Demolition night from 1979 proves particularly insightful with one of my favourite quotes of the year:
I live by one rule: When documentaries are made in forty years about the present day, you don’t ever want to be on side of those pushing against history. Rather, you want to be aligned with those who are trying to move the world forward a couple of inches.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein caught fire with dog lovers around the world upon release in 2008, spending 156 weeks on the New York Times best seller list. The novel tells of a father torn apart from his family through the eyes of his dog, Enzo. Enzo’s narration can veer from being stiff in places to extremely insightful in others. One memorable passage appears towards the end when Enzo points out that, “We all play by the same rules; it’s just that some people spend more time reading those rules and figuring out how to make them work in their behalf”. While the ending is predictable, the darker turns in the middle of the novel are not as expected. And while you know the plot moments are coming, Stein does a good job at tugging at the heartstrings when you hit them.
It was fitting that the first book I’ve taken out from the Winnipeg Library in about 20 years was Alan Bennett’s The Uncommon Reader which tells the story of Queen Elizabeth discovering books at a late age. The 2007 novella by the English playwright is a quick read at just over 100 pages and acts as a love letter to the written word. The Queen experiences that feeling that many of us do of so many books/albums and so little time. How do you cover all the important ground? You can’t really but just be happy with your sliver in the world. Towards the end, the Queen finds her voice by looking beyond just reading and starts writing. As she states towards the end, “You don’t put your life into your books. You find it there”