on May 25, 2004
I'm reading this book a bit at a time. Each part is like a little history lesson - full of specific people, places and things that I've heard a lot of stories about - usually from folks who didn't have a great deal of clarity when they were either living through them OR speaking about them.
Torgoff has that clarity and there's humor in his prose that gives it a certain kind of bop. Yes, it's a long book. Most people who write long books these days write them as if they are "afraid of going to hell" for having done so - there's no ease, things get really claustrophobic in such books. Torgoff sails through this material not so much like a man who's afraid of going to hell...but as a man who's been there.
There's a kind of ease, a kind of compassion and a sense of spaciousness to Torgoff's style in this work. The length of the book doesn't seem that long. Maybe it would SEEM LONGER if Torgoff attempted to adapt his style to the demands of the market...some kind of a weekly reader version of the lifes, legends, loves (and drugs) of the times he's telling us about. Thank GOD he didn't cave into that.
Can't Find My Way Home makes me want to listen to a hell of a lot of music, see some movies again and read more books about the myriad folks who inhabit this book.
I see this book as a definite college text for classes focusing on the the history of jazz, rock and roll, film and literature in the last sixty years of American culture.
The fact that Torgoff weaves his own story into this piece communicates to me that he's not of those people who goes around chanting phrases like "If you remember the 60's you weren't there". Torgoff indicates to the reader that he was "there" and that he managed to extricate himself from the oblivion of those times through either the grace of God, or his own luck, karma or whatever.
Thus, Torgoff's writing in this book is infused with a kind of all pervasive sharpness, like the razor edge of a hatchet, that only comes from the words of those who have lived...and survived. I have a sense that Torgoff has been swinging this blade for some time...I suspect he's cut through a great deal of his own personal reference points in order to find the patience and perseverance to not only deliver this work...but to have the humility to title the work as he has.
on June 23, 2004
I wanted to be interested in this book, but it became pretty boring ater a while. There is an undercurrent of romanticism that pervades the authors purpose. He claims to be neutral, yet his descriptions and conversations with many of the people slant towards idol worship. Although the author claims to be in recovery, I did not get the sense of how drugs and alcohol can ruin peoples lives. I felt that his narrative was self serving, and glorifying the wonders of drugs and experimentation. There is a price to pay. What was good was hearing his father's take on the whole down side of watching his son grow up loaded. That was interesting. I'm getting weary of the proselytizing about how epochal the 1960's, 70's and 80's were. I didn't like his picture either.
on May 25, 2004
This is a fantastic book--the history of our time, the author's insights and synthesis. It's wildly affecting and entertaining, and it's bigger than what it seems to be about. Torgoff has a touch of Balzac in him, that's for sure. He gets the joke, but he also captures the loss and pathos. I especially liked his own story--he wove it into the narrative in a really detached way that made it all the more affecting. I stayed up all night reading.