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Book review: 'Everything Is an Afterthought' is a remarkable book

By Shelby Scoffield

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, April 7 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

"EVERYTHING IS AN AFTERTHOUGHT: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson," by Kevin Avery, Fantagraphics Books, $29.99, 457 pages (nf)

“Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson” by Salt Lake City native Kevin Avery is a fitting testimonial to a man who pioneered rock 'n' roll criticism. Those familiar and unfamiliar with the culture of the '60s will appreciate this finely written tribute.

Paul Nelson is known for signing the New York Dolls to their first recording contract in the '70s. He is also known for his poetic criticism of rock 'n' roll during his time as a writer at Rolling Stone magazine.

Nelson also supported and championed the careers of Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Rod Stewart, Neil Young and the Sex Pistols.

In 1982, Nelson decided to walk away from his career and abandoned writing. When he died in 2006, his writings were next to forgotten.

The book begins with a touching and intimate foreword by Nick Tosches, who worked with Nelson for many years. It provides a deep insight to the character of Nelson. For someone who has no idea who Nelson was, just reading the foreword makes you want to turn the pages.

The introduction is just as intriguing. Author Avery, who now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., begins by describing Nelson’s final days. Avery asks the question that remains on everyone’s minds: Why did Nelson abandon his writing? Avery attempts to answer this question in remaining chapters.

Some of the best parts about the book are the pictures of Nelson, his workplace, his friends and family. The pictures are not placed in one section of the book, but scattered throughout. This makes the book more vivid and enjoyable.

Another bonus of the book is the simple language. You do not have to be a music professional to read this book. Avery captures Nelson's mysterious life by recounting his life stories and by interviewing those who knew him.

Overall, “Everything Is an Afterthought” will break your heart and inspire you to be a better person. It is a wonderful story of a man who deserves his chance in the spotlight.

if you go ...

What: Kevin Avery book signing

When: Friday, April 13, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

also ...

When: Saturday, April 14, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Dolly's Bookstore, 510 Main St., Park City

Web: dollysbookstore.com

Shelby Scoffield is a graduate of Brigham Young University and a graduate student at California State University, Stanislaus.

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