cover image Innocent When You Dream: The Tom Waits Reader

Innocent When You Dream: The Tom Waits Reader

. Thunder's Mouth Press, $16.95 (394pp) ISBN 978-1-56025-667-0

Covering 30 years in 40 chapters, Montandon's anthology of reviews and interviews stretches from a Waits-penned press release (1974) through an interview that the singer-cum-cult-figure did for Magnet in November 2004. In between, readers can follow Waits and Elvis Costello through some absurd leaps of logic in a conversation they recorded at a Chinese restaurant in 1989, hear Waits tell Terry Gross ""I couldn't wait to be an old man,"" and peruse a 1987 Toronto Star review of a gritty, mood-shifting concert. ""Waits was forever turning the show into something new,"" the critic says, ""revealing another nook in his low-rent pantry."" Despite the conspicuous gap between 1993 and 1999, the volume gives a vivid portrait of Waits as a person, with glimpses into the life of a composer and performer who has referred to his songs as ""travelogues."" Word-for-word transcriptions of some interviews make for difficult reading, but the book will nonetheless be welcomed by Waits's many fans.