Turn Around Bright Eyes
An emotional journey of hilarity and heartbreak with a karaoke soundtrack, in the spirit of Rob Sheffield's bestselling Love Is a Mix Tape.Turn Around Bright Eyes picks up Sheffield's story right after Love Is a Mix Tape. He is a young widower devastated by grief, trying to build a new life in a new town after his wife's death. As a writer for Rolling Stone, he naturally takes solace in music. But that's when he discovers the sublime ridiculousness of karaoke, and despite the fact that he can't carry a tune, he begins to find his voice. His karaoke obsession takes him to some strange places, whether that means singing a Frank Sinatra song in a senior-citizen community in Florida, attempting a Merle Haggard classic at a cowboy saloon in the Mojave desert, or clearing the room at an after-hours dive in Chinatown. But he finds the music leads him to the most surprising place of all--a new life and a new love.Turn Around Bright Eyes is a story about finding the courage to start over, move on, and rock the mike. It's about falling in love and navigating your way through adult romance. It's about how you can learn the weirdest things about yourself just by butchering a Hall & Oates song at 2 A.M. under fluorescent lights in a room full of strangers. It's about how songs get tangled up in our deepest emotions, evoking memories of the past while inspiring hope for the future. But most of all, it's a book about all the strange ways music brings people together.Sweet, funny, honest, and full of the music you love, hate and love to hate, Turn Around Bright Eyes is Rob Sheffield at his very best.

Turn Around Bright Eyes Details

TitleTurn Around Bright Eyes
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 6th, 2013
PublisherIt Books
ISBN-139780062207623
Rating
GenreMusic, Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Biography, Culture, Pop Culture

Turn Around Bright Eyes Review

  • Peter Derk
    January 1, 1970
    After Love Is A Mixtape, I'll always have a soft spot for Rob Sheffield. That book was so terrible and sad. Being a widower at such a young age. I can't imagine.There's a scene from that book. After the EMTs come to pick up his wife, he's in his house and there's EMT trash all over the floor. Plastic baggies that held all their stuff. All the stuff they used on his wife. I don't have the best memory, but that scene never leaves me.Then Rob wrote Talking To Girls About Duran Duran, which took us After Love Is A Mixtape, I'll always have a soft spot for Rob Sheffield. That book was so terrible and sad. Being a widower at such a young age. I can't imagine.There's a scene from that book. After the EMTs come to pick up his wife, he's in his house and there's EMT trash all over the floor. Plastic baggies that held all their stuff. All the stuff they used on his wife. I don't have the best memory, but that scene never leaves me.Then Rob wrote Talking To Girls About Duran Duran, which took us back to the 80's and into 80's music. I dug that one too.This book picks up where Mixtape left off. You can tell I'm a cool, insider-y kind of guy because I just call it Mixtape. So what happens when a man is heartbroken? REALLY heartbroken.Last weekend I saw the movie her . If you haven't seen it yet, go for it. I'm not going to waste time telling you what it's about because, like most Spike Jonze movies, it doesn't really matter.If you have seen it, real quick, I'd love to hear what you thought about it. About one particular part. I'm not going to spoil anything here, so don't worry. The overall premise, did you find it silly and sort of shocking, or did it make all the sense in the world? I have an opinion on that one, but I wonder if it's coming from the pretty weird place where my head lives.Anyway, there's a part in the movie where a very sad character says something like, "I think I've felt everything I'm ever going to feel. Everything else, it'll just be lesser versions of feelings I've already had."That's a pretty great summary of how it seemed Rob Sheffield felt after the sudden passing of his wife. Maybe like most people are lucky to get a chance at happiness, and to hope for a second one is just foolish and stupid, and you're better off going to see Spike Jonze movies by yourself on the weekends.I think Rob Sheffield's writing is the strongest when he's getting personal. Really, really personal. Which is a little weird, I suppose, because he's a rock critic by trade. You'd think his best stuff would be about music.I don't mean to take anything away from his writing on music. I like it. Seriously. It's just, well. I'm a weird bookish guy. And since Mixtape in 2007, I've been a little worried about Rob Sheffield. Not worried like I thought I could rescue him from sadness or something. Worried because it was hard to tell where his story was going. This is a writing theory. But here goes.I think two kinds of people can write really tender, really revealing books.One is the kind of person who is very in touch with emotion. If this is a man you know, you've probably seen him cry based on a story someone else told. The kind of person who is in touch with the emotions of others enough to understand them and write about them.The other kind, I think there's a person who feels a little bit like there's not much left to lose. That all the worst things that can happen, they've happened already. So what does she care if people know how she really feels?That second group, I worry about those people. In this book, I think we see Rob go from the second, watchlist group, to the first, happy group.Lots of other stuff happens in the book too. Music stuff. Karaoke stuff. But honestly, I blazed through that stuff to check on my friend Rob.And now that I've managed to sound like a total fucking creep, I'll go ahead and be done.
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  • paula
    January 1, 1970
    Apparently, I am a "Geddycorn":"Guitarist Alex Lifeson has the best line... on their fan base: 'In the early stages, it was very young, almost one hundred percent male. And then, as the years went by, it remained one hundred percent male.'"This book KEEPS making me laugh out loud.
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  • Mainon
    January 1, 1970
    Over the course of my reading it, this book slipped from four stars to three stars, and finally fell to two. It's a got a cute, if slightly gimmicky, hook: he's basically telling the story of how he fell in love with his second wife after being widowed, using the conceit of the progression of songs you sing in a night of karaoke. Each chapter is titled something like "8:04 pm : Total Eclipse of the Heart" or "8:59 pm: Livin' on a Prayer". The problem, I think, is that this reads like a series of Over the course of my reading it, this book slipped from four stars to three stars, and finally fell to two. It's a got a cute, if slightly gimmicky, hook: he's basically telling the story of how he fell in love with his second wife after being widowed, using the conceit of the progression of songs you sing in a night of karaoke. Each chapter is titled something like "8:04 pm : Total Eclipse of the Heart" or "8:59 pm: Livin' on a Prayer". The problem, I think, is that this reads like a series of essays, some of which (especially in the beginning) are pretty good. But he runs out of steam and the gimmick starts to take over -- and it gets old. It got real old for me around the time he said being a husband was like being Rod Stewart (it was awful; there was a lot of nattering about plodding on and worrying about Losing It and being confused by his own existence). When everything becomes a forced song or singer metaphor, you end up saying some really dumb-sounding things about music: "Something in Neil Diamond speaks to the boy in you and commands you to answer as a man."I wish he hadn't tried to make this into a book. If he'd taken the handful of truly good essays and made them a New Yorker-length column, I would have loved it.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Now, I'm the first to admit that this was my "purse book" (the one I read while waiting in doctors' offices and sitting under the dryer at my hairdresser....far more of the former than the latter for this particular title) and so I read it in fits and starts over a three month period. However, the book is really just full of short little essays, so I don't think I missed any sort of thread by reading in pieces. I really loved Love is a Mix Tape and enjoyed Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, but Now, I'm the first to admit that this was my "purse book" (the one I read while waiting in doctors' offices and sitting under the dryer at my hairdresser....far more of the former than the latter for this particular title) and so I read it in fits and starts over a three month period. However, the book is really just full of short little essays, so I don't think I missed any sort of thread by reading in pieces. I really loved Love is a Mix Tape and enjoyed Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, but I'm starting to feel like Sheffield only has one story, his own, and now he's telling it over and over. That was fine for Love is a Mix Tape since the story was very compelling, and his second book was a trip down musical memory lane since we are about the same age, but in this book he just takes his day to day life (all previously covered in detail) and relates it (barely) to a karaoke song or musical artist he likes to cover (Sheffield is a serious karaoke addict). There are some good bits here - the chapter about Rod Stewart was wonderful, but overall it felt like a retread - "I've got a great second wife, she is my soulmate, I worked at my college radio station, I love karaoke."). Sheffield is a good writer but it's time for some new material. (Oh, and yes, pre-iPhone I actually carried an actual book in my purse for many years, so thanks, Steve Jobs.)
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  • Kathy Leitle
    January 1, 1970
    The title of this book is the only reason I even considered reading it. This line is from a Bonnie Tyler song I've always liked, even though I've never been sure what the song means. I've never sung Karaoke nor have I seen it performed in person, only on TV shows or in movies, but I do love music, so I thought I'd skim this book and find something amusing.What I found was much more than that. I love the author's voice and he comes across as someone I would really like. He is a music geek and pro The title of this book is the only reason I even considered reading it. This line is from a Bonnie Tyler song I've always liked, even though I've never been sure what the song means. I've never sung Karaoke nor have I seen it performed in person, only on TV shows or in movies, but I do love music, so I thought I'd skim this book and find something amusing.What I found was much more than that. I love the author's voice and he comes across as someone I would really like. He is a music geek and proud of it. In his job as a writer for Rolling Stone magazine, he meets a lot of musicians and wants them to know that he and others appreciate their talent and work. His description of spending a week in Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp was fascinating. I'm impressed with the way he takes a song or a singer's life and uses it to illustrate some truth he has discovered about his life or life in general. The chapters about Rod Stewart and about a few Beatles songs were particularly insightful. Even when he discusses songs or singers/bands of which I am unfamiliar, he gives enough information so that I understood what he was saying.He also clearly states how much he loves being a husband, admitting how devastated he was when is first wife died, the despair of living after her death, and then the joy and contentment he's found with his new wife. There was no sarcasm or snarkiness evident, which was refreshing.I thank Bonnie Tyler for making we notice this book and I thank Rob Sheffield for writing it.
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  • Casey
    January 1, 1970
    Have you ever sung karaoke with Rob Sheffield? If not, it's an experience I'd totally recommend. I went to his book event at Word in Greenpoint, and it was a great experience. Seeing the man bust out his best falsetto for "Toxic" by Britney Spears really helps to set the tone of the book.I'm admittedly a bit of a karaoke novice, but I'm coming out of my shell. This is kind of like a glimpse into the future for me, though there are some passages of this book that have articulated so nicely things Have you ever sung karaoke with Rob Sheffield? If not, it's an experience I'd totally recommend. I went to his book event at Word in Greenpoint, and it was a great experience. Seeing the man bust out his best falsetto for "Toxic" by Britney Spears really helps to set the tone of the book.I'm admittedly a bit of a karaoke novice, but I'm coming out of my shell. This is kind of like a glimpse into the future for me, though there are some passages of this book that have articulated so nicely things that I have felt for a long time. How music you used to stand against suddenly becomes endearing when you're older and less into your fandoms? Yep. How if you make it into your twenties loving music, that passion's with you for life? Sold. I loved every page of this book and consider it a must for music fans, especially those who adore singing along.
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  • Cynthia
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. I really want to rate this book better than I did. There are flashes--no, huge chunks, chapters--of brilliance, poignancy, and hilarity, but I feel the book needs stronger editing. There are entire chapters (the best, in my opinion) that seems to have little to do with the karaoke theme of the book. The more autobiographical chapters, about the author's family, relationships, and attending rock fantasy camp, really shine but don't have much to do with karaoke. In fact, the karaoke thr 3.5 stars. I really want to rate this book better than I did. There are flashes--no, huge chunks, chapters--of brilliance, poignancy, and hilarity, but I feel the book needs stronger editing. There are entire chapters (the best, in my opinion) that seems to have little to do with the karaoke theme of the book. The more autobiographical chapters, about the author's family, relationships, and attending rock fantasy camp, really shine but don't have much to do with karaoke. In fact, the karaoke thread seems a bit of a push. I think the author would have done better to drop the karaoke theme and instead publish the book as a series of essays or as more of a pure memoir. I really enjoyed this book, but it could benefit from a little tightening up.
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  • Brave
    January 1, 1970
    This book is all over the place. It seems to be a collection of essays very loosely based on the same themes (karaoke and the author's relationship with his wife), but Sheffield jumps topics from one paragraph to another. Occasionally there's a good paragraph with a funny or insightful observation, but mostly it's Sheffield showing off his musical geek side. I often felt like I was reading the essays of an eighteen-year-old rock fan with ADD, but Sheffield is in his 40's and a professional journ This book is all over the place. It seems to be a collection of essays very loosely based on the same themes (karaoke and the author's relationship with his wife), but Sheffield jumps topics from one paragraph to another. Occasionally there's a good paragraph with a funny or insightful observation, but mostly it's Sheffield showing off his musical geek side. I often felt like I was reading the essays of an eighteen-year-old rock fan with ADD, but Sheffield is in his 40's and a professional journalist. Sometimes he would spend a page discussing a musical topic or band; other times he would devote entire chapters to certain artists. (I could've done without the chapter on Rush. Or Neil Diamond. Or Rod Stewart.) He's a writer for Rolling Stone, and it shows.
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  • Joe
    January 1, 1970
    Parts about Karaoke & Rob's courtship with his new wife: fantastic.Random essays about Rod Stewart that contain little more than platitudes and gushing: not so much.Be advised that this book is not about karaoke in any sense besides being Rob's personal memoir of times he has sung karaoke. There is no substantial discussion of its history and no in-depth analysis of its cultural impact beyond speculation. This is not necessarily bad; but you should know it going in.
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  • Brittany
    January 1, 1970
    How I Came To Read This Book: I got a digital ARC through Edelweiss. I also read Rob’s first book, Love is a Mix Tape, several years ago and was interested to read one of his follow-ups (I haven’t, however, read his second book, Talking to Girls About Duran Duran)The Plot: The general format of Rob’s lineup of memoirs is to headline each chapter with a song, and then write an autobiographical essay that tie into some relationship, moment, or philosophy in his life. This time he uses karaoke – a How I Came To Read This Book: I got a digital ARC through Edelweiss. I also read Rob’s first book, Love is a Mix Tape, several years ago and was interested to read one of his follow-ups (I haven’t, however, read his second book, Talking to Girls About Duran Duran)The Plot: The general format of Rob’s lineup of memoirs is to headline each chapter with a song, and then write an autobiographical essay that tie into some relationship, moment, or philosophy in his life. This time he uses karaoke – a huge passion of his that he fervently tries to rationalize throughout the book – to speak to the music industry as whole (i.e. how bands you despised as a kid give you some nostalgia and respect as an adult), his relationships (i.e. how his dad went through life as a generally cool dude or what his new wife is like), and his general love of karaoke as an industry (i.e. the rise of the ‘karaoke’ scene in nearly all rom com’s, how a technologically redundant microphone separates the performer from the crowd). The essays are all rather short and sweet – I think there’s about 25 of them in total – and follow a loose chronological timeline. The Good & The Bad: I have a lot of thoughts about this guy. On the one hand, I think he’s a more relatable Chuck Klosterman (indeed, in a meta moment he discusses reading and guffawing at a book he’d read multiple times, Klosterman’s ‘Eating The Dinosaur’). He is unabashedly nerdy and loves stuff in poor taste – Britney Spears’ movie debut Crossroads is brought up multiple times, as an example. But his nerdiness is predominantly geared toward music, and if you have a short fuse when it comes to rock geeks, you may want to pass on this one – sometimes I felt like Sheffield’s passion for bad music and obscure music was a little obnoxious, and almost self-serving (like when he discusses how amazing and rare it is to compare the singles of a super obscure band with his now-wife). You know music, we get it. But it makes for a dull read when you veer into an invisible pissing match of “I know more out there bands and singles than you do.” It might be a slight generational thing as well. I always perked up at the mention of more modern / recent bands – where I’m a decade plus younger than Sheffield, I think some of his musings on certain bands were a bit over my musical head. In general, this book certainly has the voice and tone of a rock journalist. Sheffield isn’t a spring chicken anymore, and yet he writes like a guy in his early twenties – it’s a weird dichotomy when you read about Bowie being a slut and Sheffield shaking his ass yet knowing that he’s around the 40 mark, and almost a little uncomfortable. The writing style on its own is fine, but when you put it in the context of the author, it’s a little eh. But who am I to be an ageist – the book is more readable and poppy with Sheffield’s style anyway. Anyway, I guess because Sheffield is such a big karaoke fan, this time around his tone is a lot more confident than in Love Is A Mix Tape, which was an ode to his deceased wife (she died in an untimely, unexpected way at age 31). Sometimes, a tad overconfident. As with Sheffield’s pronouncement of deep rock geek trivia, he also loves to write about how amazingly awesome he’s able to feel emotions and live life. I was originally going to say he loves to overstate how amazingly awesome his wife (and his friends) are in particular, but the guy lives his depression as richly and deeply as he lives his love. I’m not discrediting someone that feels so much and I say he’s brave for putting it onto paper, but sometimes it rings a little untrue. It’s almost like he undoes a lot of the work he puts into other chapters in making himself relatable by making his feelings and relationships so untouchable – it’s incredible that a guy who defines himself as kind of a rock schlub lands a woman that’s unbelievably amazing in every which way you can imagine. Again, I honestly think it’s sweet and kind of fantastic in and of itself that a guy can so openly profess his adoration...but sort of unrealistic (and therefore irritating) at the same time. Still, there were definitely some highlights in the book. I agree with another reviewer that the karaoke theme was maybe a little thin, especially because Sheffield frequently reverts back to it and further tries to clarify a point he ekes out pretty early on (‘this is why karaoke rocks’), but in general it was a decent read. I think my favourite chapter was the one on ‘the microphone’ and how it’s actually archaic technology that we all still adore for some reason – that one’ll stick with me for awhile. The Bottom Line: If you like the writing style and musings of a rock journalist, this is a fantastic book. If, like me, you’re a music (and karaoke) fan but not a fanatic, you’ll probably find it okay. Anything Memorable?: Like I mentioned, I perked up at the mention of more recent bands. I do love me some karaoke (although again, not to Sheffield’s diehard level) and have a decent voice, and I got a few ideas for some songs to try out...if I were a bit older, I’ll bet I would’ve glommed onto even more choices!60-Book Challenge?: Book #24 in 2013
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  • Rissa
    January 1, 1970
    3.5⭐ I enjoyed this read but i wanted more. 3.5⭐️ I enjoyed this read but i wanted more.
  • Chris Craddock
    January 1, 1970
    It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not. We've got each other and that's a lot...Rob Sheffield knows a lot about music and loves to sing Karaoke--but he's terrible. He is the kind of karaoke singer that I avoid at all costs. It is painful for me to listen to bad singers. But he doesn't let anything stop him, and I have to admire his tenacity. He writes for Rolling Stone and has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, yet chords, pitch, rhythm, and guitars mystify him. He went to Rock & It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not. We've got each other and that's a lot...Rob Sheffield knows a lot about music and loves to sing Karaoke--but he's terrible. He is the kind of karaoke singer that I avoid at all costs. It is painful for me to listen to bad singers. But he doesn't let anything stop him, and I have to admire his tenacity. He writes for Rolling Stone and has an encyclopedic knowledge of music, yet chords, pitch, rhythm, and guitars mystify him. He went to Rock & Roll fantasy camp, but majored in tambourine. Even that was a challenge, but he prevailed, bruising and beating his thigh bloody.This book has a lot of material about karaoke and what songs are most popular at karaoke bars, and how and why it has become such a popular phenomenon. It is also kind of a therapeutic journal about how he went from being a depressed widower, dragging himself like a zombie through ground zero, to being a happy vibrant karaoke kook with a new girlfriend, and later, wife, also a karaoke fanatic, as well as a DJ and an astrophysicist.I didn't always see eye-to-eye with him but enjoyed his karaoke diary immensely, nonetheless. Most out of synch with him on Bowie, not such a fan of Bon Jovi, kind of liked his take on Rod Stewart, with a few caveats, and would have liked to hear more about Total Eclipse of the Heart, the Bonnie Tyler hit that provides the book's title. But I guess that is what Wikipedia is for--where I learned that it was Rory Dodd who sang the "Turn around, bright eyes" bit. Also involved were Roy Bittan on piano, Larry Fast on synths, Rick Derringer on guitar and Max Weinberg, he of Springsteen and Conan O'Brien fame, on drums. Neil Diamond, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, Journey, and the karaoke scene in Lost in Translation, are covered--no surprise since they are all obligatory. Sheffield has a chatty, breezy, style, liberally peppered with repurposed lyrics and cultural reference riffs. He is a much better writer than he is a singer, I'd venture to guess. But it is his passion for singing that fuels this epic, and provides his ultimate redemption, taking him from a morose Morrissey character to the leading man of a whacky rom com with a happy Hollywood ending. Turn Around Bright Eyes is a fantastic title for a fantastic book.
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  • William Torgerson
    January 1, 1970
    I listened to this book read by the author, who did a great job. I could hear him getting into it more as he went and, I think, growing more comfortable with the act of reading as he got deeper into the pages. Enthusiasm is important in both reading and karoake.Since I listened rather than own a copy (yet), it makes it hard to list my favorite lines. I wanted to take a lot of notes about songs to sing and some of the karaoke joints mentioned in the book. My two go-to songs are Rod Stewart's "Do I listened to this book read by the author, who did a great job. I could hear him getting into it more as he went and, I think, growing more comfortable with the act of reading as he got deeper into the pages. Enthusiasm is important in both reading and karoake.Since I listened rather than own a copy (yet), it makes it hard to list my favorite lines. I wanted to take a lot of notes about songs to sing and some of the karaoke joints mentioned in the book. My two go-to songs are Rod Stewart's "Do you think I'm Sexy?" and LippsInc's "Funkytown." I thought this book might be a little more "fluffy" or superficial since it was about karoake, but fortunately Sheffield is able to once again tap into his reflective spirit when it comes to relationships, both romantic and familial. The music details make it fun!
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    It's possible that I don't really like Rob Sheffield's writing as much as I think I do. I'm looking at removing him from the Trifecta of People Whose Music Writing I Enjoy. Maybe I'll replace him, at least temporarily, with 1995-96 Spin magazine era Liz Gilbert. Perhaps I'll just dismantle the Trifecta altogether, since Mikal Gilmore hasn't written anything in ages & Chuck Klosterman's last book was kind of a wheeze. This is certainly better than Nathan Rabin's new book, which I read concurr It's possible that I don't really like Rob Sheffield's writing as much as I think I do. I'm looking at removing him from the Trifecta of People Whose Music Writing I Enjoy. Maybe I'll replace him, at least temporarily, with 1995-96 Spin magazine era Liz Gilbert. Perhaps I'll just dismantle the Trifecta altogether, since Mikal Gilmore hasn't written anything in ages & Chuck Klosterman's last book was kind of a wheeze. This is certainly better than Nathan Rabin's new book, which I read concurrently, since it presents the female of the tale as an actual person & also, you know, makes sense, but that's the best praise I've got for now.
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  • Sandy Irwin
    January 1, 1970
    Love. That is the essence of this book, and of Rob Sheffield himself. His love of music,his wife, his family - it all comes through in this book. He is not afraid to explore his low points or celebrate his high ones. His sheer passion for the things he loves is infectious. And, more than anything, he makes you want to sing karaoke. To just lose yourself in the music you love. But, Rob Sheffield, you have nothing to fear - the Rush haters are still out there, and are sharing our lack o' love with Love. That is the essence of this book, and of Rob Sheffield himself. His love of music,his wife, his family - it all comes through in this book. He is not afraid to explore his low points or celebrate his high ones. His sheer passion for the things he loves is infectious. And, more than anything, he makes you want to sing karaoke. To just lose yourself in the music you love. But, Rob Sheffield, you have nothing to fear - the Rush haters are still out there, and are sharing our lack o' love with our daughters ;).
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  • Julianna
    January 1, 1970
    Let me explain: I was informed this afternoon by the powers that be in the Music household that I needed to do the dishes and clean. So to help pass the time, I decided a short audiobook would keep me entertained. I selected the first audiobook that showed up on Overdrive which happened to be this. This book is totally cheesy and so not my style. I loved it. It had some very quotable moments involving the meaning of the songs we sing and a very beautiful anecdote from the author about meeting hi Let me explain: I was informed this afternoon by the powers that be in the Music household that I needed to do the dishes and clean. So to help pass the time, I decided a short audiobook would keep me entertained. I selected the first audiobook that showed up on Overdrive which happened to be this. This book is totally cheesy and so not my style. I loved it. It had some very quotable moments involving the meaning of the songs we sing and a very beautiful anecdote from the author about meeting his wife. I was enraptured. Washing the dishes today was bearable thanks to this.
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  • Krisilou
    January 1, 1970
    I am a complete sucker for Rob Sheffield's sentimental music fan nerddom. His latest memoir/ode to karaoke is an homage to classic rock, love, and loss. He may lose you if you're not one who pines for college radio, but for those of you who may cry upon hearing the first chord of the song that was playing when your junior high boyfriend broke up with you or who kept your cassette tapes set to record songs on the radio, then this is the essay collection for you.
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  • Kristine Crane
    January 1, 1970
    If you haven't read any Rob Sheffield, begin now. Read Love is a Mix Tape first.....then ease into this one. Sheffield fell in love and married his dream girl while in college. She left this world too soon. (that's Love is a Mix Tape)...this book "explores" his love of karaoke and new life and love. If you love karaoke, you will like this; if you love 80s/punk/pop/country, etc., you will like this; if you love happy endings, you will like this! I like this!
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  • Tracey Sinclair
    January 1, 1970
    Started a little slow but once I got into it, I was enchanted: Sheffield writes with deceptive simplicity about love, family, masculinity and music and this is ultimately a lovely, optimistic, romantic book. Probably helped that I read the last few chapters while listening to an 80s station and, with weird synchronicity, the songs he was writing about started playing on the radio...
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  • Marck Rimorin
    January 1, 1970
    I loved "Love is a Mixtape." This is Sheffield's sequel of sorts, and this book has the same appeal to me as the first one (which is both a good thing and a "bad" thing). Although the karaoke bits—from Bonnie Tyler to Depeche Mode to Bon Jovi—are really great gems in this book.
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  • Christopher
    January 1, 1970
    Rob Sheffield has officially become someone whose books I shall buy upon release. All three are fantastic memoirs of music & love & loving music.
  • Nora
    January 1, 1970
    I laughed, I cried. This book was a real tonic for me. (Results not guaranteed for you.)I loved Rob Sheffield’s previous memoir, Love Is a Mix Tape, which was all about his first wife and all the mix tapes they made and her death. This one starts right where the last one left off. Love Is A Mix Tape had a very low-key style and comic touch that made it seem fluffy and lightweight even though it was about being widowed (widowered?), but then it haunted me (in a good way) and I ended up re-reading I laughed, I cried. This book was a real tonic for me. (Results not guaranteed for you.)I loved Rob Sheffield’s previous memoir, Love Is a Mix Tape, which was all about his first wife and all the mix tapes they made and her death. This one starts right where the last one left off. Love Is A Mix Tape had a very low-key style and comic touch that made it seem fluffy and lightweight even though it was about being widowed (widowered?), but then it haunted me (in a good way) and I ended up re-reading it a couple times. So this time I was prepared for Turn Around Bright Eyes to be kind of a sleeper! I feel like these are both books it’s easy to underrate, precisely because they’re charming.The topic of the book is karaoke and how it helped the writer get in touch with his feelings, creativity, and true nature. This was funny for me because my girlfriend just did this project about how playing the drums helped her get in touch with her feelings, creativity, and true nature, so it seemed strangely familiar. If you think karaoke is a thin topic for a book, you’re right, but it is really just a jumping off point. So there’s also a lot of other stuff in the book that’s just tangentially related but interesting, like about his father or how he learned to not hate the band Rush. I identified with the writer because I also can’t sing. He explains it, “I have loved music all my life and as they say you always hurt the one you love.”Actually, I’m going to let the writer explain what this book is really about: “The happy chapter of my life was over, and the world had run out of surprises. But it turned out my life was just beginning.” “There’s no future without tears. Are you really setting your hopes on not getting hurt at all? You think that’s an option?” “When you chew your way out a steel trap, you don’t return for a receipt.” “Nobody knows if your present mood is just your present mood—-maybe it’s not a mood, maybe it won’t end.” “Once again, I get scared of overdoing, and then end up finding out overdoing is the only thing to do.” “I was lucky to get a second chance. I thought I was too late, but it turns out I was just in time.” “At any moment, a song can come out of nowhere to shake you up, jump-start your emotions, ruin your life.” There, that’s clear, right?My favorite chapters were: -Chapter 3, Sing Your Life, because he lays out the whole point of the book in it. -Chapter 4, Work It, which has a great description of Greenpoint, Brooklyn where the writer lived on Eckford Street, because I lived there for six years. Also sometime later he talks about Foodswings. Yay, best vegan food in the borough! -Chapter 7, Crazy In Love, which was about microphones. Because he runs down who looks good with a mic, talks about the first time he ever saw the thing where the singer turns the mic into the crowd (it was Joe Strummer from the Clash); just fun stuff.-Chapter 8, Rebel Yell, because it was about rock stars singing karaoke. It made me think of a picture I recently saw of the guy from Sparks singing his own hit song at karaoke in Japan, and a part in David Byrne’s Bicycle Diaries where he’s in Manila and someone tries to get him to sing Burning Down The House at karaoke but he’s taken aback and won’t do it. -Chapter 13, Rock and Roll Fantasy, because it was about Sheffield taking part in an expensive fantasy rock band camp where he played the tambourine and it was alternately hilarious and heartbreaking. Also, whenever Sheffield meets a rock star, he overthinks it and decides to compliment them on their little-known song or band, which sometimes makes them happy but sometimes does not, and that was really funny. I get the strong impression that Rob Sheffield is a nice guy, not an asshole like rock journalists are supposed to be.-Chapter 16, Debaser. Because this is where he meets his future second wife, an astrophysicist by day, college radio DJ by night. It’s very sweet. “I’m not sure how long it took for the Smiths to come up, but it was under two minutes.” He asks her what her favorite Pavement album is, and when she says Wowie Zowie, he decides he doesn’t have a chance with her because he’s a Slanted & Enchanted kind of guy. Then he’s eating dinner with her and some friends and they talk about the top 5 hottest guys in rock, and based on her answers I think I fancy her too.-Chapter 26, Ziggy Stardust. Because, duh!-My least favorite chapter was the one about Rod Stewart because: blech, do not like Rod Stewart.I also found his depiction of NYC shortly after September 11 more true to life than anything I’ve ever seen in print. I guess that just means his perspective was more similar to my own than other stuff I read. Actually, because the book is not chronological, he started by just saying that he moved to Greenpoint from the Financial District in 2002, and I thought, “Oh great, he is not going to discuss September 11th at all, it’s just understood; how tasteful and humane of him.” But then he did later, however it was still tasteful and humane. I really liked his description of going to his first show downtown in a smelly venue after September 11. With me it was the Moldy Peaches at the Mercury Lounge in November 2001 and they vowed they were never going to play “New York City’s Like a Graveyard” again. (I wonder if they did or not?)Lots of little things were very funny, like he stored cassette tapes in his oven, or how when he was a college librarian he kept secretly erasing the overdue fines (for a book named Sexual Unfolding) of a girl he had a crush on. Other times I wasn’t sure if he was kidding or not. Did Neil Diamond really have a conveyer belt that rotated him around the stage when he played at the Garden? Is life really that strange?Where did I get this book: As soon as I learned of its existence, I put it on hold at the library. I was prepared to wait, even though there were a few people ahead of me and the book was still on order. But then, I was walking through Grand Central Terminal. . . and suddenly I could not resist. I walked into Posman Books as though pulled in by a tractor beam and walked straight up to the information desk. I did something I never do, the humiliating “I don’t remember the name of the book or the author’s name, but his other book is called. . .” thing. The clerk didn’t even have to look it up, he just smirked at me and pointed out how it was on the table right behind me. But why shouldn’t he have a little satisfaction in his life? I spent $28 on this book! I didn’t even use my one-time 20% discount because I always think I’ll need it more later. Anyway, it was worth every penny. Also just a PSA that bookstores still exist and you can in fact buy your books there.Book design: The cover, whatever. But the interior is delightful! Each chapter heading has a drawing of a mic, and each one is different. The chapter headings all begin on the right side of the page, so if the previous chapter ends on a right-hand page, then the microphone cable is stringing all the way across the left-hand side of the page which is otherwise blank. (This will all make sense when you see it.) Very cool! What other book is this like? It’s kind of the lite version of How Music Works by David Byrne.Theme song: This is silly, when the whole book is itself a big playlist, but I’m going to say Destination Greenpoint by the Fleshtones.
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  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, my geeky music-soaked heart. I didn’t know much about Sheffield as a writer for Rolling Stone, but after reading “Love Is a Mix Tape,” I wanted more—more of his poignant and sometimes perfectly ridiculous riffs on life lessons, this time delivered through Rod Stewart, Neil Diamond, Bowie, and one truly delightful chapter on attending a rock ‘n’ roll grown-up band camp. The 9/11 chapter is almost as gut-wrenching as the section in “Love Is a Mix Tape” reliving the loss of his wife. But Sheffi Oh, my geeky music-soaked heart. I didn’t know much about Sheffield as a writer for Rolling Stone, but after reading “Love Is a Mix Tape,” I wanted more—more of his poignant and sometimes perfectly ridiculous riffs on life lessons, this time delivered through Rod Stewart, Neil Diamond, Bowie, and one truly delightful chapter on attending a rock ‘n’ roll grown-up band camp. The 9/11 chapter is almost as gut-wrenching as the section in “Love Is a Mix Tape” reliving the loss of his wife. But Sheffield’s humanity and humor carry the reader through. He has all the deep musical knowledge and off-kilter sense of humor of Klosterman without the “Broseph” vibe. I could read (listen) to these stories and reflections all day, every day.
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  • Helen
    January 1, 1970
    Music has saved Rob's life and I feel like it has done the same for me.
  • Kellyflower
    January 1, 1970
    It's okay, really. Go ahead sing as much of the song as you can. See that's what this book is about. Being able to let go and just SING! Even if you can't carry a tune, Karaoke makes you feel like it's okay to suck and still be on the stage singing to a bunch of strangers."It's a spiritual quest.This spiritual quest, like so many spiritual quests, involves Bonnie Tyler." This book is not just a book about karaoke, it's actually a biography, which for some reason I didn't realize until after I st It's okay, really. Go ahead sing as much of the song as you can. See that's what this book is about. Being able to let go and just SING! Even if you can't carry a tune, Karaoke makes you feel like it's okay to suck and still be on the stage singing to a bunch of strangers."It's a spiritual quest.This spiritual quest, like so many spiritual quests, involves Bonnie Tyler." This book is not just a book about karaoke, it's actually a biography, which for some reason I didn't realize until after I started reading it and a spot in the book made me look at the label on the spine. It has a lot of other stuff in it. Like the time he went to a Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp. (which I felt was one of the boring parts of the book)"Over the years, I've gotten totally obsessed.Like I said, I have a karaoke problem.But admitting the fact that you have a problem is the first step toward making it an even bigger problem."Rob Sheffield is older than me so the type of music he talks about is not the music I was obsessed with growing up, but there were plenty of bands and songs I knew. Like - The Beatles - he goes through a chapter talking about how during your life you love one Beatles song then in a little while you mature and another one becomes your favorite.I also never payed attention to what was going on in the song "She Loves You" until he pointed it out. Weird. (pg 155)Rod Stewart -"Nice try, Oedipus, but there are in fact three ages of man:1. He thinks Rod Stewart is cool2. He doesn't think Rod Stewart is cool.3. He is Rod Stewart.No man ever plans to turn into Rod Stewart. It just happens. There are days when I dread this fate. And there are other days when I think every minute of my life I don't spend being Rod Stewart is a waste of time."I didn't know that they wouldn't play a line of his song "Tonight's The Night" on the radio because it talked about "spreading your wings". What a joke. Now they have songs like Blurred Lines on the air.Neil Diamond - Yes, I know who Neil Diamond is, and I could probably sing the whole album of The Jazz Singer. My mom was a big fan , and when your parents are big fans of some one when your little, that means you are too, because it's the only records in the house!"Honey's sweet, but it ain't nothing next to baby's treat" - Neil not only wrote that line, he kept it in the song. Now, if you or I were trying to write a hit, and we came up with a lyric like that, would we say, "Hey, I think that's a keeper - our work is done here" ? Ah, no. We would immediately crumple the paper, burn the tape, and never mention it to even a closest friend." He also talked about movies like Jaws, Star Wars. TV shows like Welcome Back Kotter.If you know what I'm talking about, then you'd understand this book. I'm afraid the younger generations just won't get some of the references.Now I'll admit.. at the time I started this book I'd never been to a "Karaoke bar" or to a Karaoke night at some bowling alley or any where else. So I was kinda fascinated by the whole "getting up in front of strangers and singing". I can't believe it's still popular. Doesn't it seem like it's just a crazy fad and it would have been long gone by now?BUT about halfway through the book my little coffee shop down the road had Karaoke Night. So I bravely took my teenage sons and their friends and we went.Did I sing? Hell yes! Even my youngest who HATES talking in public got on that stage and became a Showman. He was twirling around kicking out his legs, flirting with the audience.(who were just the people that came with us, Thank God!)Sheffield talks about when you first start singing you find out whose voice suits you and whose doesn't. this is true. I found mine. It's Pat Benatar. (That's right Hit Me With your Best Shot!) But I can also have the Joan Jett quality"We came here to be stars. But it goes deeper than that - we came here to make each other stars."
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  • Krista
    January 1, 1970
    In my review for a different Rob Sheffield book I concluded: I'm left thinking that a memoir needs to be either: a) So mind-bogglingly outside the realm of my own existence that I am fascinated by the details; or b) So universal that I learn something about myself through the evaluation of someone else's experience. Talking to Girls About Duran Duran falls somewhere in the middle, and I think that's where it falls short: It's too mundane to excite and too personal to relate to. I know I'm riski In my review for a different Rob Sheffield book I concluded: I'm left thinking that a memoir needs to be either: a) So mind-bogglingly outside the realm of my own existence that I am fascinated by the details; or b) So universal that I learn something about myself through the evaluation of someone else's experience. Talking to Girls About Duran Duran falls somewhere in the middle, and I think that's where it falls short: It's too mundane to excite and too personal to relate to. I know I'm risking looking pompous or foolish by quoting my own self, but Turn Around Bright Eyes was déjà vu all over again. This, Sheffield's third memoir, treads his familiar territory of sharing personal stories through the soundtrack of his life, with the added bonus that this time the soundtrack is also his karaoke set list. I still haven't read Love is a Mix Tape -- which is Sheffield's most beloved book about how his wife died suddenly when they were still really young -- but I was familiar with his tragedy so was heartened to learn that Turn Around Bright Eyes is about how he eventually fell in love again and got married. But as poignant as his experiences might be -- Sheffield was a young widower, lived across from the World Trade Center on 9/11, got a second chance at love -- I totally failed to connect with this book.I did like the chapter about Sheffield's experience at a Rock ’n’ Roll Fantasy Camp -- it was just the right mix of gossipy celeb sighting (Eric Burdon can't be happy about how he appears) and self-deprecating humour (Sheffield is so bad that, despite the green and purple bruises on his thighs from giving his all to the tambourine, Grand Funk Railroad’s Mark Farner is more angered than entertained by his performance). And I was interested in the one chapter about how he found Ally -- the rocket scientist/college DJ "Astrogirl" that he courted and married. There are likely people who, after reading Love is a Mix Tape, would really like to know that Sheffield ended up happy again.But overall -- this was a pretty unnecessary collection: Who writes a third memoir? (And this is more memoir than, say, the essay collections of David Sedaris or Chuck Klosterman). The karaoke connection was pretty weak and, despite the fact that Sheffield the self-admitted rock geek keeps name-dropping obscure underground bands, there were whole chapters on Neil Diamond and Rod Stewart and David Bowie that were neither interesting in their own rights or useful for illustrating some grander overall theme. His chapter on the Beatles should have been interesting to me -- they were the soundtrack to my own first crushes -- but it was rambling and annoying. His chapter on Rush should have been interesting to me -- my brother was tutored by the drummer's sister back in the 70's -- but it was pointless. Neither exotic nor universal enough, but not entirely a waste of time. Déjà vu all over again. (And I am still intending to read Love is a Mix Tape one day.)
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  • Penny McGill
    January 1, 1970
    I knew I wanted to read this book before it even arrived on the shelf. Past titles - "Talking to Girls About Duran Duran" and "Love is a Mix Tape" - would have driven me to read it anyway but I was curious to know how much of the karaoke idea could be in this book. In any book. Can an author keep a theme as unusual as karaoke alive for more than 40 pages? Rob Sheffield's writing in Rolling Stone and on their web site is always funny and supremely clever. You can't help but laugh and then think a I knew I wanted to read this book before it even arrived on the shelf. Past titles - "Talking to Girls About Duran Duran" and "Love is a Mix Tape" - would have driven me to read it anyway but I was curious to know how much of the karaoke idea could be in this book. In any book. Can an author keep a theme as unusual as karaoke alive for more than 40 pages? Rob Sheffield's writing in Rolling Stone and on their web site is always funny and supremely clever. You can't help but laugh and then think about why you were laughing and then, likely as not, laugh again. It's a quality of writing and content that I would have thought only lasted through a blog post or a good length interview but he makes it all work here in this book.The book works on more than one level and that is delightful. By my quick calculations Rob is about 5-6 years older than I am but the bands he obsesses over are the same ones I loved when I was a young teen and all the way through university (and continue to play in the kitchen when I have a long meal to prepare or a mountain of dishes to overcome) and so many of the things he talks about - even the concert t-shirts he wears - are the same things I had or experienced. That is the part of the book I knew would resonate but it's the soul searching and rebirth of his ability to think about love that really hit me. Like with his blog posts I would laugh a bit and then think about what he had written and laugh again but it was all about reflecting on the past, appreciating his extended family, and finding love again after a tremendous loss. This guy has it all going on in one book. And he quotes Geddy Lee, Simon LeBon and inserts ABBA lyrics in all the right places. His chapter about Neil Diamond almost made me cry and when he does a Frank Sinatra song at his grandparent's retirement home in the southern U.S. it took me hours to get "New York, New York" out of my head.The karaoke part of the book isn't just a gimmick for this guy. It wasn't just a funny thing to write in a subtitle and perhaps lend a few chapters worth of time considering the fad. Karaoke is a huge part of his life and that of his friends. His music encyclopedia brain teams up with his admission of being a terrible singer and this all makes a fantastic book which examines love with a side-helping of singing Bon Jovi in front of strangers make complete sense.I can't think of the number of friends and siblings I am going to give this book to at Christmas and I know there will be many patrons who will enjoy it and I will like talking to them about it. It's a sweet reflection on life and a great window on the world of 80s and 90s music. Uplifting and funny.
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  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    Music has always been an important part of Mr. Sheffield’s life. As a writer for Rolling Stone magazine he had transformed that into a profession as well. In 2001 Mr. Sheffield was a young widower, had recently moved to New York City and by his own admission was still in the depths of mourning the sudden death of his wife. On a rare night out with friends he was introduced to karaoke and a new love story began … not only with karaoke but with the woman who would, due in large part to her own lov Music has always been an important part of Mr. Sheffield’s life. As a writer for Rolling Stone magazine he had transformed that into a profession as well. In 2001 Mr. Sheffield was a young widower, had recently moved to New York City and by his own admission was still in the depths of mourning the sudden death of his wife. On a rare night out with friends he was introduced to karaoke and a new love story began … not only with karaoke but with the woman who would, due in large part to her own love of music, not only rescue him from the depths of his self-imposed solitude but also become his second wife.This book is a little bit love story, a little bit the history of karaoke and a whole lot about the importance of music in our lives. The memories of certain occasions in Mr. Sheffield’s life are emphasized with songs … whether he is quoting lyrics or amusing his reader with anecdotes about his poorly performed (by his own admission) karaoke versions of those songs. Every so often he cleverly worked the lyrics of a song into the flow of his writing and I found myself immediately starting to hum the song in my head. This is the second book I have read recently that made me wish it came with an accompanying CD. He pays homage to most of the popular artists over the last several decades, as well as some lesser-known (to me) ones paying special attention to Rod Stewart, The Beatles and Rush. He moves smoothly from pop music – does anyone besides me even remember “Love Grows Where Rosemary Goes” – through Indie, Country and Heavy Metal. I don’t think he ignored any music genre. All of that “plays” softly in the background as he shares about his parents, his life, living close to the World Trade Center on 9/11, personal grief and falling in love again.Being of a “certain age” this book included many songs that could be included in the soundtrack of my own life and, although loath to admit it, I have enjoyed one or two Corona fueled karaoke performances myself, so this was a fun read.
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  • Drew
    January 1, 1970
    Disguised as a cultural history of the way Americans interact with karaoke, this is actually a much-needed sequel to Sheffield's first book, the absolutely devastating memoir Love Is A Mix Tape. That story, of Rob's first wife and her tragic death at the age of 31, was a good read, but one I never wanted to return to after I finished it. It was just so hard to experience those events through his eyes, no matter how well-written the story was. To some extent, Turn Around Bright Eyes is the story Disguised as a cultural history of the way Americans interact with karaoke, this is actually a much-needed sequel to Sheffield's first book, the absolutely devastating memoir Love Is A Mix Tape. That story, of Rob's first wife and her tragic death at the age of 31, was a good read, but one I never wanted to return to after I finished it. It was just so hard to experience those events through his eyes, no matter how well-written the story was. To some extent, Turn Around Bright Eyes is the story of Rob meeting his current wife, and their karaoke-driven courtship. It's a much more upbeat story, and thank god--I needed to know he was OK after Love Is A Mix Tape. Anyway, there are definitely parts of this book that use karaoke as a transparent jumping-off point for essays about Rod Stewart or Rush or attending Rock N' Roll Fantasy Camp--Klosterman-style humorous critical essays in need of a home. Those parts are good, if not exactly what it says on the label. The parts that directly relate to his life--and, yeah, the parts that directly deal with karaoke, too--are the reasons to read this book, though. They're great. I'm so glad I found a copy of this book at the dollar store--it's easily worth 10 times what I paid for it. ;)
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    At some point, perhaps, our culture will realize that "OMG! LOL! Cheesy 80s songs! Bonnie Tyler! OMG Journey!" is neither funny nor incisive. It hasn't happened yet. This book is just bad. The author seems like a nice guy and all, so I feel a little uncomfortable heaping this much scorn on his work, but if the most notable thing about you is that you wrote a memoir (or, God help us, more than one memoir), you probably didn't need to write a memoir. The writing's nowhere near good enough to make At some point, perhaps, our culture will realize that "OMG! LOL! Cheesy 80s songs! Bonnie Tyler! OMG Journey!" is neither funny nor incisive. It hasn't happened yet. This book is just bad. The author seems like a nice guy and all, so I feel a little uncomfortable heaping this much scorn on his work, but if the most notable thing about you is that you wrote a memoir (or, God help us, more than one memoir), you probably didn't need to write a memoir. The writing's nowhere near good enough to make this book worth reading for its own sake. The jokes are bad. The supposed insights aren't earned and often have little to do with the prose leading up to them. It's a bunch of gobbeldygook about, say, Neil Diamond, and then he'll drop in some stupid line about what this experience and Neil Diamond supposedly tell us about life. There were a couple of interesting nuggets (female Rush fans are called Geddycorns, haha; I wanted to know more about rock and roll fantasy camp), but those only served to keep me from lighting my kindle on fire.
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