You've no doubt heard of Lester Bangs. You've probably read a review, or book, by Greil Marcus. Among the rarefied field of readers who follow rock music criticism and journalism, however, the name of Paul Nelson is not as well known as it should be.
Kevin Avery, a Salt Lake City writer who freelanced just about everywhere in Happy Valley before moving to Brooklyn in 2005, has changed all that with two books published last year celebrating Nelson's talent.
Nelson walked away from his noted journalism career in 1982, but not before helping forge the groundwork of "New Journalism" that let writers and critics bask in first-person narrative and other radical technique. A writer for Rolling Stone, Nelson signed the New York Dolls at his Mercury Records post, then heralded a host of artists now household names, including Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, The Sex Pistols and The Ramones.
So taken was Avery with Nelson's legacy that he wrote two books about his body of criticism and other writing. Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, published by Fantagraphics, collects Nelson's best pieces. Conversations With Clint, compiles Nelson's interviews with actor/icon Clint Eastwood. The first title garnered a full review in The New York Times Sunday Book Review, and was named among the best books of 2011 by Library Journal. Conversations with Clint was praised by Jonathan Lethem as a "miracle."
"My original idea for this book was simply to anthologize Paul Nelson's best work," Avery said in press materials for Everything Is an Afterthought. "But I soon realized that, in doing these pieces, Paul was ultimately telling this own story. And his story was so damn compelling it was impossible for me not to write about it."
Nelson will be at The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City on April 13, 7 p.m., and Dolly's Bookstore in Park City on April 14, 6:30 p.m.
Author Kevin Avery reads from books celebrating Paul Nelson
When • April 13, 7 p.m.; April 14, 6:30 p.m.
Where • The King's English Bookshop, 151 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City; Dolly's Bookstore, 510 Main Street, Park City.
Info • Free. Call The King's English at 801-484-9100 or visit http://www.kingsenglish.com for more information. Call Dolly's Bookstore at 435-649-8062 or visit http://dollysbookstore.com for more information.