Lou Reed: A Life

Anthony DeCurtis. Little, Brown, $32 (528p) ISBN 978-0-316-37655-6
In this engaging yet uneven biography, Rolling Stone contributing editor DeCurtis (In Other Words) explores the life of a troubled kid from Long Island who transformed American music. A child of postwar suburbia, Lou Reed embraced rock and roll and the low life in his teens, and these two obsessions would fuel his career. In college, a close friendship with poet Delmore Schwartz marked his rejection of the mainstream. While songwriting at Pickwick Records not long after graduating, he met avant-garde Welsh musician John Cale and together they formed the Velvet Underground. Adopted by Warhol as the house band for his Factory, the Velvet Underground failed commercially even as they were creating a new musical paradigm. After leaving the band, Reed scored an unlikely hit with “Walk on the Wild Side,” but his uneven solo output and louche proclivities kept him from stardom. Nevertheless, before his death in 2013 Reed was celebrated as godfather of rock’s underground and had found domestic contentment with artist Laurie Anderson. While DeCurtis touches on Reed’s violent behavior, substance abuse, and complex sexuality, the icon remains distinct but quite distant, and DeCurtis’s takes on Reed’s musical output are equally lacking. The 500-plus pages pass swiftly but leave the impression that when it comes to Reed, much remains to be said. Agent: Sarah Lazin, Sarah Lazin Books. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/10/2017
Release date: 10/10/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-4789-5534-4
Hardcover - 768 pages - 978-0-316-55242-4
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