Books in the Media: Grohl and Strout rock to the top of reviews

Books in the Media: Grohl and Strout rock to the top of reviews

Dave Grohl's memoir The Storyteller (S&S) was one of the critics most reviewed this week, picking up mentions in The Bookseller, the Observer, Guardian, Times, Sunday Times and Irish Times

The title, which rocked straight to into the UK Official Top 50 number one spot in its first week on sale, was dubbed a "compendium of vignettes from a rock’n’roll life lived with brio" by the Observer's Kitty Empire. 

Empire added: "Grohl is a lively and thoughtful writer, deeper than his great bloke reputation, what rankles are the weird editorial decisions: the repetitions, and the changes to a weird font when he wants to emphasise a point."

In the Irish Times, Tony Clayon-Lea said: "It’s all quite veiled and anodyne, but if you’re a fan just strap yourself in for smooth, well-told tales by a man for whom 'dumb luck seems to be my specialty'."

The Foo Fighters frontman also picked up reviews for his one-off UK theatre show, a "deep dive into what [The Storyteller] contains, with musical interludes that inevitably erupted into audience singalongs", said Lisa Verrico at the Times. Verrico gave the show four stars, writing that the memoir "turns out to be rich in personal details, but short on rock’n’roll revelations". The Guardian's Ian Gittins also gave the show four stars. 

Over in the Sunday Times, Tim Chester interviewed the musician, writing: "His refusal to take himself and life too seriously has served him well. But nothing keeps him as grounded as much as family. For every wild story in the book — throwing beer glasses at fascists in Amsterdam or smuggling hash in the bassist’s dreadlocks in the band Scream — there’s another about shopping for Barbie dolls with his daughters. He somehow keeps the twin worlds of rock and domesticity in harmony."

The book is also a number one New York Times bestseller this week and a One to Watch for The Bookseller's Caroline Sanderson. 

In fiction, Elizabeth Strout's Oh William! (Viking) was Alice O'Keeffe's Book of the Month in The Bookseller. O'Keeffe wrote: "Strout writes sparely, with such delicate precision, about this decades-long partnership, showing how we are all, ultimately, a mystery to each other. Profound and deeply moving, I loved it."

In the Sunday Times, Johanna Thomas-Corr called the novel "cathartic", writing: "Oh William! is an intensely truthful book not only about how we experience trauma but the ways we keep on reframing our perceptions of it."

Strout's latest sees the return of eponymous heroine of 2016's My Name is Lucy Barton and 2017's Anything is Possible. Andrew Billen, writing for the Times, said: "Oh William! deliberately reads more like the notes towards a novel than a novel, yet it a very good novel, deft when it needs to be and ambivalent where certainty would be facile. Its celebration of the ungraspable riddles and sudden judgments of real life becomes compulsive. Whoever she is, I cannot get Lucy Barton out of my head."

The Financial Times' Mia Levitin added: "With its spotlight on her first marriage, Oh William! allows us to put another piece in the jigsaw with a satisfying click."

Finally, The Telegraph's Rupert Christiansen gave the novel three stars, observing that "Strout doesn’t play post-modernist games with her readers, but she isn’t perfectly straight with us either and the book leaves one with a curiously unsatisfying sense of knowing no more at the end than one did at the beginning. Perhaps that’s the point".