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Rick Moody’s On Celestial Music

We’re reading with great pleasure and profit Rick Moody’s rich and varied new book of essays on music, the title essay of which first appeared in Salmagundi and was chosen for Best American Essays.

We can recommend, among many worthwhile offerings, the investigation into The Who’s Pete Townshend and the subject of child abuse which is deeply humane, generous as well as unsparing, steeped in the music and the best thing we’ve ever read on this artist and his band.

And the way the title essay moves from, say, a theological/moral close reading of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sparrow” to the divorce of the author’s parents from one paragraph to the next gives some sense of the range in play throughout the volume.

Here’s a sentence, as insightful as it is wry and heartbreaking, from the section in that essay called “Heaven and Premium Stereo Equipment”: “My parents had this new stereo system, in a big wooden cabinet in the living room. It was a hi-fi, in the classic sense of the term, and it was maybe the expensive hi-fi that they bought to convince themselves, through amplification, that they were more allied and resilient than they were.”

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