Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson

(Author) (Foreword by)

Product Details

Fantagraphics Books
Publish Date
6.1 X 1.7 X 9.1 inches | 2.3 pounds
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About the Author

Kevin Avery's writing has appeared in publications as diverse as Mississippi Review, Penthouse, Weber Studies, and Salt Lakemagazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and stepdaughter. His first book, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson, is published by Fantagraphics Books.


With [this book], one of the most thoughtful, soulful, and articulate writers on music in the 60s and 70s has been revived.--Bob Nickas
Nelson, who died in 2006 at age 69, was part of the first generation of rock critics, instrumental in bringing attention to musicians including Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, New York Dolls and Warren Zevon. The book is both an anthology of his best writing and a tragic recounting of a life that shut down too soon.--Ken Tucker
This book beautifully balances Paul Nelson's life and work, the struggling man and the gifted craftsman. Its Nelson is equal parts Hammett and Bartleby, a connoisseur and a Coke-head, possessed of wisdom and uniquely self-destructive. That Paul's actual writing makes up half the book takes nothing away from Kevin Avery's scrupulous reporting and remarkable empathy with his subject. I don't know if the story of my friend and mentor, colleague and neighbor will break your heart. But that's exactly what it did to mine, and in a way that leaves me grateful.--Dave Marsh, author and SiriusXM radio show host
Paul was his own kind of subterranean--disappearing around corners on the surface, thinking his way through the catacombs beneath it. He cultivated his obsessions over decades, until he could pass on the glow they gave off for him to other people. He left behind more than one ghost, and many of them are in this book.--Greil Marcus, author of Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads
Paul Nelson's life was a fierce quiet drama of devotion to culture, with a run of triumphs along the way to a slow-motion tragedy. This book restores the triumphs of his writing to a conversation that may not have known, or remembered, what it was missing. That alone would make this book essential; the biographical research, the unpublished pieces, and the photographs make it a human saga as well, as heartbreaking as the novel or film Nelson never managed to write. The whole thing proceeds out of Kevin Avery's own quiet devotion, for which I can hardly express my gratitude.--Jonathan Lethem, author of Chronic City and Motherless Brooklyn
Avery has crafted both a cautionary tale and a celebration of a noir-influenced writer who deserves a place alongside Lester Bangs for his ability to live, always, in the music. Devotees of folk, establishment rock 'n' roll, and pulp fiction will rue not having discovered Nelson sooner.--Heather -McCormack
Avery's book... is an admirably unorthodox construction... What's impressive about Avery's biographic half of the book is that he's produced both an intimate personal bio and a comprehensive professional bio as well.--Joe Carducci (Author of Rock and the Pop Narcotic)
Avery crafts a biography of a largely self--taught thinker who immersed himself in his passions, whether that meant classic film, the detective fiction. . . or folk music. The author allows his subject to develop primarily through oral history, as his friends and contemporaries recall a quirky iconoclast. . . But the book is most compelling simply by bringing Nelson's own distinctive writing voice to a new generation . . . and a commitment to understanding what artists were trying to accomplish.--Scott Renshaw
Kevin Avery has compiled an incredibly thorough account of one of folk and rock music's most important critics of the 20th Century: Paul Nelson. Nelson is . . . also a true writer who loved his subject matter possibly more than anything else. After reading, I felt that I knew more about Nelson than simply his life's accomplishments -- I knew him as the man he was....--Chris Proctor
This is a fascinating and moving story, not just of a life gone adrift but of the phenomenon of rock culture in the '60's and '70's and its accompanying commentary.... Paul Nelson wrote as if his existence depended on the meaning his musical heroes made of humanity.--Barney Hoskyns
Nelson's writing is deeply personal, inviting readers into the relationships he had with the people he wrote about. Avery's biography similarly invites readers into Paul Nelson's life, lonely as it was.--Matt Smith-Lahrman
Like the best critics, Nelson was primarily a fan of what he wrote about, subjects that struck a chord with him. And here's a bio and a collection of his work written by a fan of his.--Robert O'Connor
Music book of the year ... [T]he thing I really appreciate in reading Paul's writings is you get to a place where even if you disagree with him you want to really explore why... That's what great rock writers do -- they send you to the music. Of all the books I've read this year, Everything Is an Afterthought is the one that has meant the most to me.--Marc Campbell
Everything Is an Afterthought presents a vision of the heyday of rock journalism, times that have long past.... The story Kevin Avery tells is of someone who believed passionately in the art that moved him...--Alex Rawls