Monday, October 12, 2015

"Massive Pissed Love: Nonfiction 2001-2014" by Richard Hell

ISBN: 978-1-59376-627-6  Soft Skull Press

Richard Hell can't do no wrong in my world.  He's a man of great taste (even though I do not agree with some of it), and one of the few who can mix making music and writing very well.   This is his first collection of essays, reviews, and nonfiction writing.  It's a wonderful way to spend time with someone, without actually sitting across from Mr. Hell.   He's a superb prose writer, who reads the world of cinema, literature, the visual arts and music quite well.  His observations of life in New York City right after 9/11 is even unique, in the way he talks about how the city smelled during that time.  His writing actually affects all my senses.  If he ever wanted to be a food/restaurant critic, I'm sure he would be great for that as well.

I think a lot of people when they hear the name "Richard Hell" - explicit images come up.  The thing is, Richard can articulate who he is, and why he likes a certain work of art, or why he does not like it.   I can imagine him being a distinguished humanities professor.  He understands why people create, and he's sensitive to the process of doing art.   I recommend "Massive Pissed Love" to those who know Richard through his music and his role in the New York punk world.  But beyond that, Hell is just naturally a very skilled writer.  On one level, he's the other side of the coin when it comes to Patti Smith.  It's interesting to read both of their memoirs right after the other - because in a way it deals with the same subject matter - and both are very unique and clear-headed prose stylists.  Essential book for your collection.

- Tosh Berman
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