Shake It Up by Jonathan Lethem
Great American Writing on Rock and Pop from Elvis to Jay Z: A Library of America Special Publication

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This isn’t the first ambitious collection of rock criticism, but it’s the first to have the imprimatur of the lordly Library of America. It took an Englishman by way of Australia, the critic Clive James, to point out how much this series means to this country’s culture.
-NY Times

Synopsis

THE ESSENTIAL PLAYLIST OF GREAT WRITING ABOUT THE MUSIC THAT ROCKED AMERICA 

Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar's Shake It Up invites the reader into the tumult and excitement of the rock revolution through fifty landmark pieces by a supergroup of writers on rock in all its variety, from heavy metal to disco, punk to hip-hop. Stanley Booth describes a recording session with Otis Redding; Ellen Willis traces the meteoric career of Janis Joplin; Ellen Sander recalls the chaotic world of Led Zeppelin on tour; Nick Tosches etches a portrait of the young Jerry Lee Lewis; Eve Babitz remembers Jim Morrison. Alongside are Lenny Kaye on acapella and Greg Tate on hip-hop, Vince Aletti on disco and Gerald Early on Motown; Robert Christgau on Prince, Nelson George on Marvin Gaye, Luc Sante on Bob Dylan, Hilton Als on Michael Jackson, Anthony DeCurtis on the Rolling Stones, Kelefa Sanneh on Jay Z. The story this anthology tells is a ongoing one: “it’s too early,” editors Jonathan Lethem and Kevin Dettmar note, “for canon formation in a field so marvelously volatile—a volatility that mirrors, still, that of pop music itself, which remains smokestack lightning. The writing here attempts to catch some in a bottle.” 

Also features:

NAT HENTOFF on BOB DYLAN 
AMIRI BARAKA on R&B 
LESTER BANGS on ELVIS PRESLEY 
ROBERT CHRISTGAU on PRINCE 
DEBRA RAE COHEN on DAVID BOWIE 
EVE BABITZ on JIM MORRISON 
ROBERT PALMER on SAM COOKE 
CHUCK KLOSTERMAN on HEAVY METAL 
JESSICA HOPPER on EMO 
JOHN JEREMIAH SULLIVAN on AXL ROSE 
ELIJAH WALD on THE BEATLES 
GREIL MARCUS on CHRISTIAN MARCLAY 

and much more.
 

About Jonathan Lethem

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Published May 23, 2017 by Library of America. 580 pages
Genres: Arts & Photography, Humor & Entertainment.
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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on May 16 2017

This isn’t the first ambitious collection of rock criticism, but it’s the first to have the imprimatur of the lordly Library of America. It took an Englishman by way of Australia, the critic Clive James, to point out how much this series means to this country’s culture.

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