In her own write

We generally don’t realize where the rules are, until we see them broken. Everything we do — dining at a restaurant, riding a bus, attending a seminar, going on vacation at the beach, writing a book review — has a host of unwritten regulations, specifications, agreed-upon limitations. These rules are enforced by society at large in a host of ways. Most of these ways are so deeply engrained, so endemic to the DNA of our experience, that we don’t even realize the rules are there.

Until they are broken.

Yesterday I experienced a glorious breaking of the rules of writing a book review. In a rare — and as far as I know unique — departure, The New York Times Sunday Book Review accepted a piece by the great young singer/songwriter Nelly McKay which was itself a work of transgressive art. In all my years reading the NYTSBR I’ve never seen anything like it, and I must say I was impressed and delighted.

The context was songwriter/musicians reviewing biographies of songwriter/musicians. On one page appeared Nelly McKay’s review of a recent biography of John Lennon, and on the very next page appeared Suzanne Vega’s review of a recent biography of Paul McCartney. So far, so good — matched sets.

But Nelly McKay, apparently discontent with this prosaic formalism, chose to think outside of the box. Hell, she did away with the box altogether. Taking a cue from Lennon’s linguistically plastic 1964 book “In his Own Write”, she turned in an original work of surrealist art.

Which the editors, to their great and eternal credit, published as is. The result does far greater honor to the spirit of John Lennon than ever could be achieved by any mere book review.

But why take my word for it? You can read it for yourself.

2 thoughts on “In her own write”

  1. I really enjoyed the review.

    Tomorrow, I will attempt to speak, the entire day using the same style… Nobody understands me anyway… 🙂

    ok, maybe not. But, I still enjoyed it…

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