Rock & Roll Books
Modest Mouse: A Pretty Good Read
by Adam Goldsher
St. Martin's Griffin, 201 pp., $13.95 (paper)
Chicago bassist and freelance writer Adam Goldsher's first mistake was to write a book on Modest Mouse without the band's consent. Without access to his subject, Goldsher is forced to cobble together previously published interviews with the Modest Mouse himself, Isaac Brock, then add his own spin on the band's fascinating trajectory. Goldsher indulges in excruciatingly long and unhelpful technical descriptions of every Modest Mouse track, making Pitchfork's wankery look concise by comparison. Most egregious are the "interludes," which embark on embarrassing flights of existential angst about the band's noncompliance with his project and tortured comparisons between Brock and Robert Johnson, Charlie Parker, and Kurt Cobain. Unlike Bukowski, this isn't a pretty good read by any stretch. The problem lies primarily in the author's writing: He's disorganized, lacking fundamental grammar skills, and appears to be a stranger to proper paragraph transitions, rendering his prose confusing and often unreadable. More problematic is that Goldsher's muddled mess reeks of the geek who yearns for insider status, complete with forced chattiness and affected familiarity with both his readers and subjects. This particular read is painfully lame: It's a good story in the wrong hands, and the band was right to shut out its wannabe biographer.