David Hajdu: Heroes and Villains: Essays On Music, Movies, Comics and Culture (DaCapo) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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David Hajdu

Heroes and Villains: Essays On Music, Movies, Comics and Culture

Published by DaCapo

Feb 19, 2010 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Though he’s widely known for The Ten Cent Plague, his 2008 book on the U.S. government’s 1950s war on comics, David Hajdu has long been a music critic for The New Republic. Heroes and Villains is primarily focused on the musical end of things, but as its full title notes, contains explorations into music, movies, comics, and the broader cultural landscape as well.

Hajdu (pronounced Hay-due, for those keeping score) knows his stuff, whether he’s extrapolating on The White Stripes, Paul McCartney, or Taylor Swift, he offers an incisive, thoughtful commentary on the material and the artists behind it. Especially refreshing is that Hajdu is mindful that there’s a musical world beyond rock ‘n’ roll, and some of the book’s most winning moments come when the author takes on the wide world of jazz. While the pieces that stick primarily to one artist are generally more successful than those examining broader cultural trends, the collection’s finest moment comes via Hajdu’s evisceration of the music sold at Starbucks. Readers disdainful of greatest hits compilations and over-priced coffee are sure to love it, as Hajdu details the way such “essential” packages short change independent musical discovery.

Guys like David Hajdu are a rare breed anymore, as criticism-truly thoughtful criticism, not just a “thumbs up or thumbs down” reviewfurther erodes from the journalistic and cultural landscape; fittingly, Heroes and Villains was recently named as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award. He’s a kindred spirit to writers like The New Yorker‘s Sascha Frere-Jones and Anthony Lane or The New York Times’ A.O. Scott. (It should be noted that of those three, only Frere-Jones covers music; Lane and Scott are film critics). And while Hajdu get a little dry at timeshow about having a little humor about it all, eh?it’s good to know there’s still a space for scribes of that nature. (www.davidhajdu.com)

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February 19th 2010

i loved the ten cent plague!  i’m going to go request this from the library!  thanks!

D. Hajdu
February 20th 2010

Aw…thanks for the kind words!  I like your writing, too.  D.H.

Inner Game
April 5th 2011

Quite interesting, as I have known David Hajdu as a biography writer only, so far - Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and others in positively 4th Street ... so I will read the 10 cent plague, for sure. Thanks for you article!

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July 12th 2017

Aw…thank you for the kind phrases!  i really like your writing, too.

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August 25th 2017

Aw…thank you for the type words!  i really like your writing, too.  D.H.

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