John Darnielle
The Regulator BookshopContinuum Press’ 33 1/3 series has primarily paired music journalists with seminal albums to produce pocket-sized books blending research, analysis and fervent fandom. There have been exceptions to this format: Some 33 1/3 books were penned by musicians like Colin Meloy, Joe Pernice and Franklin Bruno, and some abandoned straight analysis in favor of creative writing, such as John Niven’s fictionalization of The Band’s Music from Big Pink. John Darnielle’s new 33 1/3 book, Master of Reality, takes on the Black Sabbath album of the same title and is subject to both of the aforementioned exceptions. Darnielle is a musician first and a writer second: His blog Last Plane to Jakarta has a healthy following, but he’s best known as the man behind Durham-based band the Mountain Goats. And Master of Reality forgoes analysis in favor of formal experimentation. The book is narrated by the character Roger Painter, a young man locked in a southern California psych ward in 1985. The book unfolds along his attempts to convince his captors of the worthiness of Black Sabbath and return his walkman to him. Writing in a jejune voice with dated entries, Darnielle pulls no punches in bringing this paranoid, disaffected character to life: The first two pages say, in their entirety, “FUCK YOU ALL GO TO HELL.” Darnielle reads from and signs copies of his book at 7 p.m. Brian Howe