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The The West is the Best Issue

Literary

Running down some of the West's most fucked up books.
December 1, 2003, 12:00am

Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal
By Ian Christe (Harper Entertainment) This is both a fascinating survey and a passionate fan’s account. Christe’s cultural savvy, deadpan sense of humor, and deft use of interview material make for a sweeping story with Scorsese-like scope. Black Sabbath birthed the beast; Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Motorhead spread the sound; and in the 80s and 90s, subgenres proliferated. The spectrum covered in Sound of the Beast stretches from Hollywood hair bands to thrash metal to Celtic Frost’s and Voivod’s experimentalism to Norwegian black metal, nu metal and more. No outfit receives more attention here than Metallica. Christe’s detailed account of their rise from teenage metalheads to irritating cultural institution winds its way throughout the book. Metal’s undying quest for more extreme sounds, its popularity despite a frequent lack of mainstream acceptance, and its durability are other key themes. In the era of The Osbournes, Sound of the Beast unearths metal’s past and gets a blowjob from its future. FRED CISTERNA The Fourth Sex: Adolescent Extremes
(Charta Books) We haven’t really figured out what this book is about yet, but there is a heavy- as-shit and kind of pretentious blurb on the back about how if male, female, and homosexual are the first, second, and third sex, then teenagers are the fourth. And voilà, there you have an excuse to cast your huge sticky net over the art world, movies, magazines, and pop culture, all in the name of gathering pictures of kids looking sexy and vaguely dangerous. It’s, like, 450 pages long! There are texts, too (we haven’t read them yet), which are excerpts and quotations from a crazy range of sources, from Pasolini to Britney Spears. All in all, cool and daunting. The only downsides are the très gay cover image and some of the choices inside that feel like they said “Teenage!” to an out-of-touch 40-year-old. CHRISTINE SPARX Ignore The Spread: Four Years of Horrid NFL Picks
By Jeff Johnson (Self-published) Jeff Johnson is soooo fuggin’ weird. This zine contains short stories, strange lists, and weird scenarios, all under the guise of bad betting choices. It’s kind of like if outsider art master Henry Darger’s five- million-page novel was ghostwritten by Jimmy the Greek. It’s avant-fiction and memoir, really, and it’s better than the last issue of McSweeney’s (even though Jeff is friends with them and he might get mad at me for saying it out loud). JAN PEOPLES
Available from Fittedsweats@hotmail.com.