Nick Tosches has died. He was one of my favourite writers. Total firebrand. You almost had to hold on to the handrail while you worked out how to balance the book and turn the pages. He wrote with fury, anger and huge, huge heart.
And one of my all-time favourite books by anyone ever is The Nick Tosches Reader which does a pretty decent job of appearing like a “Greatest Hits”. One of the things that’s always said of Tosches was that his prose came out like Rock’n’Roll – and that extended over to the many subjects outside and away from music that he covered.
But he was also a very fine music writer. His books on Country Music and Dean Martin are must-reads. But he also wrote great “rock’n’roll memoirs” about people unconnected to music – his Sonny Liston book is another must.
Tosches wrote novels, poetry, short-stories, journalism and sometimes – and often in fact – there was a deep blur with his own biography swirling within.
His was a deep, dark soul that enabled some of the greatest writing I’ve read.
If nothing else you need to check out his “biography” of Jerry Lee Lewis. When Tosches was writing about Jerry Lee, Sonny Liston or Dino he was writing about America. And he was writing about himself.
Some of the best writing I’ll ever read is when it’s not really (or not only) about the subject in the title or on the cover. I feel like Tosches was one of the great masters of this style.
He wasn’t made to last long in this world. So by all accounts he lasted far longer than anyone might have guessed.
There’s a lengthy chat with him on Marc Maron’s podcast from a few years back. Also a fine-enough starting point. Well, you could start anywhere. But he’s stopped. So you should definitely make a start.
R.I.P. Nick Tosches
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