Years ago, on an episode of The Simpsons, Marge decided to return to her first love: art. Embracing her creativity, she took a painting class, where she worked under the tutelage of the legendary Professor Lombardo. At some point during the course of the episode, Marge dares to offer Lombardo a compliment, saying that she wishes every teacher could be like him, and he offers the following sharp reply: “Marge, please, I don’t take praise very well!“
I feel his pain. Whenever I receive praise for my writing I always say “thanks,” of course, but I usually shrug at the same time, as if to say, “If you say so.” Sure, sometimes I feel that something I’ve written has turned out well, but as often as not, I can’t really tell. I usually just write stuff because it’s stuff that I want to write about, and it’s just an added bonus if other people like it, too. Based on this, you will be unsurprised to learn that I’m generally pretty bad about promoting my work too, but I’m making an exception in this case because — wait for it — I’ve written a book.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. More accurately, I’ve compiled a book, one filled with the interviews that I’ve conducted for this column over the course of the past few years. It’s entitled All You Need Is a Hook… The Best of Hooks ‘N’ You, and you can order it through Lulu.com.
The content stretches all the way back to the first interview I did for the column, which consisted of a mere three questions that I asked of Moe Berg about The Wonderful World of the Pursuit of Happiness, and goes all the way up to my oral history of Vermillion by the Three O’Clock. In between, you can see the evolution of Hooks ‘N’ You as I figured out exactly what I wanted to do with the column, and you can enjoy interviews with, among others, Phil Keaggy, the Trashcan Sinatras, Don Dixon, Richard Barone, Kyle Vincent, Nick Heyward, Blue Mercedes and Splitsville.
The price is, to my way of thinking, pretty reasonable: $14.99 for 180 pages of what I am assured are insightful conversations about some of my favorite unheralded and underrated albums by the artists responsible for bringing them to life. For those wondering, yes, it is available for download at a lesser price (a mere $6.49), but I really hesitated offering it in that format because, hell, it’s not like the columns aren’t online! But as someone who regularly buys books released by the folks over at the Onion A.V. Club, I’m the first to admit that it’s always nicer to hold an actual book in your hand.
By the way, I wasn’t kidding when I made that comment about how I’m assured that the conversations are insightful. I figured that if I was going to go the distance and put out a book, the least I could do was go the whole nine yards and get myself some blurbs to put on the back. Little did I know I’d receive comments that would make my ego swell to such a degree that I can barely get my head out the door …