Off Their Rockers

Who I Am, A Memoir, by Pete Townsend (Harper Collins 2012), Life, by Keith Richards with James Fox (Little, Brown and Company 2010), The Heart Broke In, by James Meek, (MacMillan, 2012) The Patrick Melrose Novels  (MacMillan, 2012) and  At Last (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012), by Edward St. Aubyn — It’s New Year’s Eve 1966 at the Roundhouse on Chalk Farm Road in London. My English girlfriend and I are surrounded by a frightening mob of inebriated, quarrelsome Mods and Rockers. It’s cold outside and The Roundhouse is an unheated brick train shed. Illicit warming fires are started here and there, right on the floor. Several fights break out. There’s only one door in or out and it’s far away through a sea of bodies. A 17-year-old … [Read more...]


Assassins of the Turquoise Palace, by Roya Hakakian (2011) – Many Americans – maybe most – understand that Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution left that ancient nation with a regime more repressive than the one it ousted. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini had promised, upon his return from exile, to be a gentle presence, a mere student of the Koran. Instead, he quickly became a mini-Stalin, viciously pursuing a long hit list of political enemies with the putative goal of “defending” Islam itself. Dissident students and defiant intellectuals who had been the very backbone of the revolution, resisted the theocratic repression just as strongly as the Shah’s secular tyranny. Those who failed to emigrate were jailed, tortured, killed. Those who did get … [Read more...]