Please Take Me off the Guest List: By Nick Zinner, Zachary Lipez and Stacy Wakefield, 116 pgs. By Kurt

Aug 31, 2010

This short book consists of a handful of brief writings by Zachary Lipez, photos by Nick Zinner (many taken during his travels with his band Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and layout by Stacy Wakefield. The book itself has glossy pages with color photos courtesy of Zinner and inserted every few pages are Lipez’s stories, making this something like a book within a book. I like the idea—it makes for a good venue for Zinner’s vibrant, unique and, at times, amusing photos (the raccoon coming out of the bushes and the mouse living in the toilet are two of my favorites)—and Wakefield’s layout is superb. Everything from the paper stock and fonts chosen to the actual concept of the book within a book and how that flows with Zinner’s photos is intelligent and smooth.

But where Please Take Me off the Guest List fails is with the written content. Lipez’s stories tell the tale of a thirty-something New York City hipster who sleeps with different women, hates his bookstore job, does cocaine, and half-heartedly follows heavy metal. In other words, he comes off as a pretentious, shallow human being whose stories—if they are true—make him a very unsympathetic character. While Lipez’s writing style may seem to be similar in some ways to someone like Al Burian in the whole mope-ish slacker feel, Burian has insights into his life that often carry over into the world of the reader in a sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant, manner. Lipez doesn’t share these with the reader, instead he writes of things to which only a handful of individuals might relate, which causes him to come off seeming like a mope-ish slacker but without many redeeming qualities.

Indeed, Lipez describes himself and his writing better than I ever could. “I have never, in any real sense, suffered…I grew up in a state of privileged irritation. I suckled on a tit of Brie and always had an unkind word for the school janitor. Truly, I was a shit” (p. 80). And you know what? That’s okay. There are lots of punks who grew up in privilege, but even a lot of them are giving the dog a bone in regards to their creations. You gotta give me something here, Zachary. Instead, what I’m finding is some great layout work, a mixture of interesting, humorous, and some slightly dull photos interspersed with lackluster tales. Kurt Morris (Akashic Books, PO Box 1456, NY, NY10009)

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