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Everything Is an Afterthought in The New York Times
Written by Mike Baehr | Filed under reviewsPaul NelsonKevin AveryDaily OCD 30 Dec 2011 2:23 PM

Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson by Kevin Avery

David Hajdu (author of The Ten-Cent Plague) reviewed Kevin Avery's Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson: for The New York Times Sunday Book Review:

"Paul Nelson, a propagandist committed to some dubious values, had a gift for imbuing disreputable, even dangerous ideas with discomforting grace. You might almost say he was the Leni Riefenstahl of rock criticism....

"Still, he matters — and not only as an exemplary case of a good mind applied to wrongheaded purposes. He was on to something legitimate when, in his 20s during the early ’60s, he took the ambitions of the rapidly maturing music of the rock generation as a challenge to produce ambitious criticism. The fiery, literate pop-music writing he developed soon crystallized — and probably helped elevate — the standards of the work he wrote about, while raising the expectations of its audience. The existence of criticism of an art is one of the things that establish it as an art, and the rock world came to think of its music as an art when serious critics started treating it like one....

"His significance as a maker of ardent and crafty (if parochial) rock writing is clear from the testimonies by critics and musicians in the biographical sections of Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, a quirky pastiche of biography and anthology put together by a zealous Nelson admirer, Kevin Avery."

And in this Sunday's upcoming issue of the Book Review, the NYT names the book an Editors' Choice.

The book has previously been named one of Library Journal's Best Books 2011, one of Rolling Stone's Best Rock Books of 2011, and one of Ken Tucker's "Top 10: The Year in Music" on NPR's Fresh Air, among other accolades.