Tagged Dead Critic

The Generic Life

  I wrote an essay for Full-Stop about Eileen Simpson’s wonderful memoir, Poets in Their Youth, and the poets she chronicles wherein (John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Delmore Schwartz, et al).

The Understated Charms of Ellen Willis

Ellen Willis was a no-nonsense, resolutely feminist, always engaging rock critic and essayist who wrote for publications including Rolling Stone, the Nation, the Village Voice, and the New Yorker (where she was the first rock critic). Her voice is sophisticated — maybe savvy is the better word — but always real. She dances to the records she reviews, bemoans…

Cruising and Americanist Criticism: Newton Arvin and F.O. Matthiessen

I. Critical Distances An intimate affair, America’s coming of age happened in 1915. There was no party or fanfare, just Van Wyck Brooks’s essay, “America’s Coming of Age,” the first consequential look at the previous century of American literature and therefore the first significant work of Americanist criticism. Curiously, the call for Americanist criticism antedates…

Lester Bangs Likes Beating Up Heroes

The Rock Star as Hero   It is easy to forget that the Velvet Underground’s career was brutally short: four albums over four years, from 1965–9, and their association with both Andy Warhol and Nico did not last past the first one. Throughout their existence, their chart positions were mediocre and album sales negligible. Their impact…