Try as we might, we've been unable to read Dan Kennedy's book Rock On cover to cover, instead rifling through it like a bowl of candy. The nonfiction tale concerns his years in a big fancy record company, and it's a fast, very funny read, filled with all the ways major labels conspire to ruin music and themselves. His feverish interior monologue smacks you over the head, shoving you forward, often latching onto something so alarmingly funny you must suddenly brake to appreciate the author's skill. Kennedy captures rock in a way that fiction writers rarely pull off, and the secret seems to be to never forget the rush you felt when you were 16, driving around, listening to music, childishly gobsmacked by the glory of it all. Meaning if you start thinking rock is about anything but sweat and youth and screaming and balls, your book is going to suck. (Not that we think Don DeLillo sucks, but Great Jones Street?)
Rock On is also crammed with lists and asides and ruminations and other McSweeney's-like short prose pieces, which is no surprise, as Kennedy is a regular presence on the site, with his work popping up nearly every other month, going back years. He's something of a ringer there, which makes his presence at today's Humor Writing seminar (along with Jon Carroll, Beth Lisick, and Eric Spitznagel) a nice, if expensive, way to get tips on the funny writing thing.
Mon., March 3, 6 p.m., 2008