John Darnielle Rhapsodizes Black Sabbath This Saturday Night


Mountain Goats guru John Darnielle, long hailed as among the most literary of indie-rock songwriters, has penned his first novel. Whether you can describe one of those 33 1/3 tomes—a pocket-book series, each title dedicated entirely to one album—as a “novel” is debatable, of course. But Darnielle’s deft way with words, vividly hard-nosed but humanizing and sympathetic, is not. He’s applied those gifts to a fictional ode to Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality, which hears the album, as the 33 1/3 blog explains it, “through the ears of Roger Painter, a young adult locked in a southern California adolescent psychiatric center in 1985; deprived of his Walkman and hungry for comfort, he explains Black Sabbath as one might describe air to a fish, or love to an android, hoping to convince his captors to give him back his tapes.”

It’s out now, and John’s reading from it Saturday night at Housing Works. Stop by, soak it all in, and perhaps discuss with him the enduring majesty of “Sweet Leaf.”

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 14, 2008

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