Saturday, December 13, 2008

Review of Achtung Baby by Stephen Catanzarite

U2's Achtung Baby (33 1/3) U2's Achtung Baby by Stephen Catanzarite

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
It was an interesting concept to run U2's least messianic record (or at least in the bottom three messianic U2 records) through the theological sieve like Catanzrite did, but it was executed successfully. The author works braids together discourses from Neuhaus, the U2 album, and a narrative about a couple duking it out on the mat of love and marriage in a way that recalls Kierkegaard's weighings-in on the relative merits and failings of love in Either/Or. His Christian viewpoint is the spoken undercurrent to this record, but restrained enough to keep a heretic like myself from rolling his eyes. It is also an engaging and extremely quick read, a trait for which I wish more philosophical texts would aim.

I got the feeling that Catanzarite could have inserted nearly any pop album of substance into this context and pulled out the bits and pieces that supported his theme, but it is readily apparent that this is the album that spoke to him and inspired this quasi-sermon. He claims in the first sentence that this is not a book about U2, and really, it isn't. Instead it is an intelligent, impassioned and convincing book about actual human adult love and is in that a manifestation of what art is supposed to be in the first place - a springboard for the greater topics of discussion.

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1 comment:

  1. When I read the back cover of this one I was skeptical -- but intrigued. So I bought it and ended up enjoying it greatly. I agree -- it is intelligent, lively, and very well-written. To me, that last attribute is the key to the book's success. In lesser hands, this approach to the album (a meditation on love in a fallen world) would be a disaster. But Stephen Catanzarite proves himself to be a very good writer indeed and, though I disagree with him on a number of points (and also think a few of the story elements are stretched a bit thin) he more than pulled it off. This is one of the most interesting and engaging books in the 33 1/3 series, and is probably my second favorite behind "Meat is Murder."