American Pharaoh

The Mayor at the opening of the Lake Front Festival, 1973, showing his sartorial flair

Mayor Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation (by Adam Cohen & Elizabeth Taylor) (2000) What other book to buy in the south side of Chicago? TVC was only a few blocks from Bridgeport, where Richard J Daley lived and died, with his wife of five or so decades and 7 children, bog Irish and loyal to their neighbourhood to an insane degree, so loyal that they looked down on Irish families that moved to the suburbs, the ones so pretentious that they “had fruit in the house when nobody was sick,”  Having selected this and one other book, TVC…

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Butterfly on a Pin by Alannah Hill

It is wrong to judge an autobiography on the character of its subject.  It’s apparent from Australian fashion designer Alannah Hill’s memoir, Butterfly on a Pin, that she is melodramatic, rude, narcissistic, deliberately ignorant and Difficult to Get On With.  Hill says that she was molested no fewer than 4 times her in her youth.  She does not mention eating anything other than junk food and lollies. In her younger days she lied, forged and stole (“the next day I shoplifted a hammer”). She is obsessed with her son* and her dead mother (whom she spends much of her book demeaning).  She had an undoubtedly rotten childhood, has pulled-herself-up by her pretty bootstraps…

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Gold Dust Woman : The Biography of Stevie Nicks

(by Stephen Davis) That “The” in the title is pretty rich. This is not a definitive biography of Stevie Nicks. This is a pedestrian grab for cash. Davis didn’t interview Nicks – he’s taken his material from published interviews, the music, quotes, interviews with friends and colleagues. He may have spoken to Nicks when working with Mick Fleetwood on the latter’s 1990 memoirs, Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac (which Davis says was “an international best seller (and the foundation text for almost every book written since about this band).”  Gold Dust Woman isn’t a bad book, it’s just that…

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Workshy by Dave Graney

(Adelaide launch, 10 November 2017) At Imprints on Hindley Street, The Varnished Culture attended the launch of Workshy: My Life as a Bludge, the modestly titled autobiography by the undisputed Funky King of the Lounge Lizards, Dave Graney. Mr Graney read excerpts with verve and wit and then thrilled the crowd with a couple of acoustic numbers, including “Night of the Wolverine.” Graney’s songs insinuate themselves into the brain till they become giant, lurid earworms.  Think “Rock ‘n’ Roll is Where I Hide.” His prose is similar.  His account starts with his childhood in Mount Gambier at the bottom of South Australia….

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Being Wagner

(by Simon Callow) (2017) Wagner was the Richard Nixon of Art: Revered, and reviled. Hugely accomplished and hugely flawed. Shining Knight and Scaly Dragon. So many words have been written by him, about him, for him and against him that when our literary friend Janelle sent us this book as a gift, it evoked a wan sigh – another Wagner book by an enthusiastic amateur, you might say!  Quelle Horreur you might say! Well, you all ought to be ashamed of yourselves!  This is a lovely book, full of sound insight and as easy to slip between its sheets as…

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