What the hell are you talking about, Ian Svenonius? That was my reaction to a good amount of Censorship Now!! This is Svenonius’s third book, and is comprised of essays, many of which were previously printed in various publications. The writings cover a wide range of topics, including the film Heathers, indie rock, gentrification, sugar, and documentaries. Svenonius, the singer for numerous groups including Chain & The Gang, Weird War, Scene Creamers, The Make-Up, and Nation Of Ulysses, writes in a style of telling, not showing. He wants to let the reader know how things are, and that’s that. Rarely does he make an argument or cite any sources, he just offers his take on various events and why things are the way they are.
Svenonius often makes good points—or at least espouses views that make me think. Yet some of it is written in a manner that made me also wonder, “Wait… is Svenonius being serious here?” He writes in a manner that can be tongue-in-cheek and I couldn’t decide if it was intentional or not, which left me frustrated. The debut essay “Censorship Now” is, I assume, a joke, as I find it hard to believe that an artist like Svenonius believes in censorship. I can see the point he’s making in poking fun at censorship. But is he really against Ikea and Apple? Does he dislike the idea of a hook in a song? I don’t know and, frankly, Svenonius doesn’t give me much of a reason to care. Being a fairly well-known person in the DIY scene over the decades, I’d be much more interested in knowing what he legitimately thinks of certain issues. I’d love to read Svenonius make a serious, sincere case for his beliefs.
As I mentioned when I reviewed Svenonius’s last book Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock ‘n’ Roll Group for Razorcake,his writing can often border on the academic, which—as someone with a couple masters degrees—I find interesting. I’d love to see Svenonius write in an academic style. He certainly has the chops for it and his writing shows him to be intelligent. I’m sure he could make persuasive arguments, but his writing often seems silly as he spouts off random ideas. In the end, I can understand someone espousing their views but when it’s hard to decipher whether they’re being truthful, what’s the point? The essays in Censorship Now!! just aren’t honest enough to take seriously or funny enough to laugh at. –Kurt Morris (Akashic, 232 Third St., Suite A115, Brooklyn, NY 11215)