Lou Reed has used his songwriting and sociopathic P.R. persona to tell the world more than anyone could have wanted to know about a middle-class Jewish kid from Long Island who just happened to revolutionize rock’n'roll. So why does the world need another soon-to-be remaindered rock-bio?
Two reasons. One: Reed changed his personalities more often than his underwear, contradicting himself and opening as many mysteries as he solved. Two: Victor Bockris has done a damn fine job of playing Boswell to Reed’s drugged-out bisexual Dr. Johnson. Collating endless reviews, interviews, and other views of Reed’s life and work, Bockris has used his considerable literary skill to form a coherent, insightful narrative from Reed’s often incoherent chaos of a life.
Bockris has an authorial voice that’s lively yet restrained; his writing takes a back seat to the biography, but his brisk style and intelligence are worthy of Reed, America’s most literary rock star. Rock journalism needs a Victor Bockris almost as much as rock music needs a Lou Reed.