When: Wed., Sept. 3, 7:30 p.m. 2014
Gina Arnold is accustomed to receiving a lot of hate mail. For eleven years, she was a merciless music columnist for the Express, and people became so angered by her rock criticism that they made shirts campaigning to get rid of her. She found that there were certain touchy topics that she, as a woman, was supposed to steer clear of. “Men don’t like to read criticism about the Rolling Stones,” she said in an interview. So, of course, those topics were often what she chose to write about. Now, as a University of San Francisco professor with a Ph.D, she’s doing it again in her third book, Exile in Guyville. The book is part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 series, in which each edition is one rock critic’s take on a record of his or her choice. Arnold, as you might have guessed, chose Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville. Phair’s album was a song-by-song response to the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, and Arnold amplifies that criticism by doing a song-by-song comparison of the two albums. Naturally, she expected everyone to hate the book, but in June she opened up The New York Times Sunday book review to find a glowing review on the front page. That’s perhaps because it’s about much more than the album. It’s also about what it was like to be a young, precocious woman in Guyville in the 1990s, how the internet changed rock criticism, and the overwhelming masculinity of rock culture. Arnold will be doing a reading at Moe’s Books (2476 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley) this week.