If there are a million ways to make music, there should be a million ways to write about music. And if music can be naive, brutal, transcendental, blunt, disorientating, then the more writing that sails those choppy straits the better. Henry Rollins' Stay Fanatic!!! is a voyage into his record collecting obsession, charted by diary entries from August 2013 to December 2015. It's uneven, splattery, awkward, sharp, floating, dizzy. It's just like music: never one clear thing, but always an overloaded self-cancelling full-body grapple. Such is Henry's quest: to fathom why he loves music so much.
The snootier critic will not welcome this book. Its undergraduate grappling is exposed and the text is unremittingly positivist - as any fanatical scribe is compelled to produce. There's nothing 'cool' in the book. Most of it is written at night, tapped into a laptop while hunkered down in the faux-café ambience of LA Starbucks. Continually, Henry writes about subsuming himself into the anonymity of this anti-hipster environment. While this image goes against the grain of Mr. Rollins' testosterone characterization (which he has been pragmatically exploiting and satirizing for decades in US televisual media), it concords with Henry's attempt to strip away all packaging from his favourite artists to get to the heart of their message and the power of its delivery.