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Frank Zappa Companion. Four Decades of Commentary Kostelanetz, Richard.
Schirmer, Unknown
ISBN: 0028646282
Pages: 250 (paperback)
Language: English Category: About


From: (Biffyshrew)
 Date: 30 Mar 1997 00:06:12 GMT
 I've just picked up The Frank Zappa Companion: Four Decades Of Commentary, edited by Richard Kostelanetz. Not much here that I haven't read before, and Ben Watson-haters should keep away, as he's featured rather heavily. As usual, any Zappa book that doesn't include MY name anywhere simply can't be trusted! (The really irritating thing is that not only was I not invited to contribute--although I know I was recommended to Kostelanetz--but my name was actually REMOVED from one of the articles in the book: I was listed among the acknowledgments at the end of William Ruhlmann's long piece as it originally appeared in Goldmine (even though I never knew exactly why); the same list appears in the book but with my name excised. Thanks a fucking heap, guys.)
 Kostelanetz himself falls into the usual critical trap of "only old Zappa is good." While adherence to this party line is mandatory for rock critics (though Kostelanetz is quick to remind is he's REALLY a classical guy, not a lowly rock crit), no truly informed Zappa commentary can come of it. The cluelessness of this comment, regarding the Freak Out influences list, would be hard to dispute: "Though Zappa could be an ironist, all of these acknowledgements were apparently serious (even [John] Wayne and [Sonny] Tufts, whom I take to represent strong performers who could stand out from any group)." If Kostelanetz thinks the dedication to John Wayne is NOT IRONIC, then he just hasn't been paying attention. He has apparently never bothered to read The Real Frank Zappa Book (where Zappa's pre-Freak Out encounter with The Duke--and I don't mean the Duke Of Prunes--is revealed), nor has he listened to The Man From Utopia (where Sonny Tufts is name-checked, making the link with cheesy horror movies a la "Cheepnis" explicit)--or if he has, he lacked the acumen to spot the relevant conceptual continuity clues.
  (Although this is not directly relevant to Zappa, another detail in Kostelanetz's discussion of the Freak Out list stuck in my craw: he writes "Edgar [sic] Varese," as if Zappa had made an error. Kostelanetz is obviously unaware that Varese himself changed the spelling of his name from Edgard to Edgar shortly after moving to the USA, which after all is where he spent most of his life.)
 Man, they just NEVER LEARN...

From: Biffy the Elephant Shrew <>
 Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997 12:53:40 -0800
 Another silly error on Kostelanetz's part is praising Zappa for his unique album titles--and then listing a bunch of titles that did not originate with Zappa, like Freaks & Motherfu#@$# and 'Tis The Season To Be Jelly. (The latter title, BTW, is from a short story by science fiction author Richard Matheson.)

From: (Gregory J. Sandell)
 I saw that (recently) new book on Zappa by Richard Kostelanetz (sp?) in a bookstore this weekend. I said, "oh goody, I'm going to guy it," until I looked at it a while and said "wouldn't that book on ferret husbandry be a better value?"
 Well, I do exaggerate a bit, but I did dislike its "journalistic" approach. By that I mean i thought that many (most?) of the authors were using Zappa's music and life as a theme to riff on and show off their journalistic chops. Ben Watson is a perfect example. When I read him (in this book or his own book), "there is no there there" for me. I don't sense a person who has a visceral relationship between himself and the music...I sense a person with an agenda.

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