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Neutral Milk Hotel 3.jpg

Cannonball Read III: In The Aeroplane Over the Sea by Kim Cooper

By Alyson McManus | Books | March 23, 2011 |

By Alyson McManus | Books | March 23, 2011 |

If any of you have talked to me for more than 10 minutes in the last year or read any of my Facebook updates, you know I have become obsessed about a certain indie rock band and their certain album. For those of you not in the know, I have become a budding drooling hipster over Neutral Milk Hotel, a former Indie Rock band from Athens, Georgia.
This book, written by pop culture writer, Kim Cooper, who has edited Scram— a journal of unpopular culture—and co-edited two books, Lost in the Grooves and Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth.

Ms. Cooper’s task here is to chronicle the sudden rise and fall of Neutral Milk Hotel, indie rock legends. If you are not familiar with the band, the book sets up the tone for what would become such a holy grail to their fans. Jeff Mangum, the lead singer/songwriter, has become the JD Sallinger of the movement, only making brief appearances since disappearing into hiding soon after the end of the tour for In The Aeroplane Over the Sea. His shying away from publicity has kept fans salivating for more and passing the album on to new cult followers. This book pretty much shows how that came to be.

The book reminds me a lot of the album in that it’s hard to explain everything in the book without reading it yourself and listening to the music it showcases. The best parts are the most raw ones describing how Aeroplane came to be, as well as, loose interpretations of the songs. It provides an outlet for a fan base starving for more music from Mr. Mangum—which given that he is set to perform at All Tomorrow’s Parties this fall in Asbury Park and supposedly might tour—they will be getting that music.

To understand Jeff Mangum is hard, but his actions make sense. He bared his soul on the album, and in the book, Ms. Cooper’s interviews with the band and the fans really show that. He just didn’t know how to deal with his rising fame so he walked away. Ms. Cooper makes an interesting point that he did something Kurt Cobain probably would have wanted to.

The music has reached countless people and has been cited by various musicians as inspiration.

The book might be short but it completely tells the story. I give the book an A but the album an A+.

For more of Alyson McManus’ reviews, check out her blog, Reviews In Rewind.

This review is part of Cannonball Read III. For more information, click here.

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