The Nick Tosches Reader
This hefty tome was assembled by the author himself. Spanning over 30 years, it mixes, fiction, nonfiction and poetry, and is connected with newly rendered annotations prefacing some of the entries. What links all of this writing — from musical portraiture to memories of his own adolescent awakenings — is Tosches’ unfailing ability to drive on into the dark heart of whatever core humanity empowers each set of circumstances.
As his biographies of Jerry Lee Lewis and Dean Martin have proven, Tosches uses an inquiry into one person’s life to chart ever broader reaches, following compelling threads throughout our entire cultural landscape. His piece on Miles Davis begins with a razor-sharp take on the devalued currency of contemporary language, and in particular the word “art.” In “Good Book Made Better”, he offers a potently barbed but entirely reasonable set of suggestions for improving the Bible.
Throughout, his own linguistic construction and style always mirrors, bolsters and harmonizes with the subjects he’s examining. In the excerpt from the Lewis bio Hellfire, Tosches’ fearless invention oozes with the same natural swagger as his subject. Fascinated by the assorted demons who dogged the heels of his heroes, he wrestles with his own as well.
The overall breadth and variety of The Nick Tosches Reader makes for a layered experience full of surprises and astoundingly eloquent stop-and-read-it-again-out-loud passages. Full of rough-and-tumble grandeur, this book is not unlike a greatest hits box set, replete with outtakes, demos, rarities and crazy hopped-up live wires.