A Jarvis Cocker talk show and two excellent new books

A Jarvis Cocker talk show and two excellent new books

Three staffers, three unabashed recommendations

Jarvis Cocker
Jarvis Cocker

Wireless Nights With Jarvis Cocker
Let’s get my bias out on the table: I would listen to Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker read the phone book. Aside from writing the best Britpop song ever, Cocker has the perfect radio voice: a growling Sheffield baritone that’s somehow both narcotic and arousing. This isn’t Cocker’s first radio show—he used to host Jarvis Cocker’s Sunday Service on BBC6—but for BBC4’s Wireless Nights With Jarvis Cocker, he takes effortlessly to his pursuit of “stories of night people.” During a scant eight episodes in 2012 and 2013, Cocker takes a midnight ferry across the English Channel; becomes a night watchman; and travels to Lundy Island, where the electricity is turned off at midnight. It’s the stuff of dreams—odd, pleasant, lucid, or even nightmarish dreams—but the kind you’ll definitely remember the next morning. [Laura M. Browning]

Success!? by Hunter Burgan
Since Malcolm Gladwell has legitimized shitty self-help books by trading in the faux profundity of willful paradox, where does that leave those of us who would truly love to probe the arcane inner workings of this thing called “success”? It leaves us laughing our asses off to Success!?, that’s where. Written by Hunter Burgan, better known as the bassist of the platinum-selling punk band AFI, Success!? is the kind of small-press curio that I used to collect obsessively in my days of making and trading zines. The slim, modest tome has that kind of bare-bones grit to it—which makes it all the funnier that Burgan, who bills himself as a “self-made thousandaire,” is ostensibly trying to instruct readers on how to get rich. Playing bass in a platinum-selling punk band is never proffered as a possibility, of course; instead, each page of the book is some bit of wordplay, contortion of logic, or eye-straining diagram meant to show that those pimping success are basically a bunch of bullshit artists. Not the most original message, sure, but Burgan’s silly mix of meta-jargon, hand-waving mumbo jumbo, and Office Space-level satire is a hoot—and it shows that he doesn’t take his real-life role as a low-level rock star as seriously as AFI’s melodramatic music might lead you to believe. Now that’s my kind of outlier. [Jason Heller]

Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste by Carl Wilson
Back in 2007, music writer Carl Wilson released probably the best book in the 33 1/3 series, Let’s Talk About Love. Wilson’s examination of Celine Dion and the genesis of what’s cool and what’s not is a deeply interesting and scholarly look at why we like what we like, and why that’s pretty much total bullshit. Now Wilson has published an expanded and updated version of that original tome, complete with 13 essays from writers and rockers about what Wilson’s book meant to them and about their own personal take on, well, personal taste. Each essay is fairly short, but they’re all packed with great little conversation starters or germs of ideas. Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic, for instance, talks about how he’s rectified his politics with being on a major label, and amazing journalist Ann Powers examines how women quietly influence pop culture from the home. (Why, for instance, do we praise Wes Anderson for his visual aesthetics without wondering where he got all his interest in home design?) It’s all exceptionally interesting stuff, just like Wilson’s original work, and would make a great read for anyone interested in either Celine Dion or cultural studies… or anything else, really. [Marah Eakin] 

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