By Austin Trunick
This collection of autobiographical essays from Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen -— who might otherwise have become a journalist, or an English teacher, as he explains here -— primarily focuses on early influences that found him in Cold War-era suburban New Jersey during his youth, up through his early adulthood and too-square-to-be-a-hippie years. There’s enough name-dropping of jazz and pop esoterica to satisfy readers seeking his thoughts on Ennio Morricone and The Boswell Sisters, but it’s just as interesting when he discusses non-musical items, such as when he connects the Corto-Thalamic Pause technique to Scientology and Golden Age science fiction, or the chapter on radio broadcaster -— and A Christmas Story author -— Jean Shepherd. He manages to come off as humorous, authoritative, and magnificently geeky, sounding like a down-to-earth liberal arts professor. It’s a breezy, informative read, and should be interesting even to non-fans.