Ian Svenonius’s Censorship Now!! (Book acquired, 9.29.2015)

This is the blurb for Ian Svenonius’s book Censorship Now!!:
image

The non-blurb is of course a blurb.

If you think that that move is brilliant, or even funny, you might dig Censorship Now!!

Publisher Akashic Books has the good sense to offer a description of the book:

In this outrageous and hilarious new essay collection, underground music icon Ian F. Svenonius tackles such diverse subjects as IKEA, Apple, the weather, the gentrification of punk by indie rock, Marion Barry, the film Heathers, Christian pornography, vampires, hoarding, the role of sugar in empire-building, how to properly tip at restaurants, the return of the hat in men’s fashion, and other highly topical matters. No one is left unscathed, and more than a few will be left scratching their heads even as they laugh.

In high school, I dug Svenonius’s first band Nation of Ulysses—more as a concept than for the music, really (I much preferred Dischord label mates Fugazi). The goofy-seriousiousness of Nation of Ulysses was entertaining and confusing, but like later musical projects The Make-Up and Weird War, Svenonius’s band never struck me as quite as dangerous as they wanted to be.

My best friend was always a bigger fan of Svenonius than I was—enough to have read the dude’s first book, The Psychic Soviet. I texted him when I first started reading Censorship Now!!, complaining that I couldn’t tell if Svenonius was serious or if the book was all a schtick, an ageing scenester’s put-on. My pal replied that Svenonius was “a professional sloganeer,” and that every sentence of The Psychic Soviet was a “pull quote.”

Every line a pull quote, every sentence a slogan is how Censorship Now!! reads (if those two exclamation marks didn’t tip you off). The book’s essays read like the rants of someone’s older brother trying to hip you to the truth, man. But after you grow up you wonder why the brother’s still living in his parents’ basement. Okay. That sounds a bit too, I don’t know, rude of me (?) — but I can’t find anything particularly profound in Svenonius’s raging against Apple and Wikipedia and the bourgeoisie. (His riff on Ikea (“Ikea wants couples to break up”) reeks of a bad comedy routine).

Censorship Now!! (which always reads like a talk book, and never as prose) is simultaneously reactionary and nostalgic. Svenonius hates all the things you’d expect him to (NPR, Urban Outfitters, Arcade Fire, gentrification) and even some things you might not expect (tipping). Loose opinion and easy reference are employed instead of facts (sample slogan:  “Destroy All Facts” How revolutionary!).

Does it matter? It doesn’t matter. The fourteen year-old me would’ve loved this shit. There’s a fourteen year-old out there that would love it now.

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