Category Archives: book

Poet Larry Beckett & Michael Goldberg to Read at The Octopus

An Evening of Poetry & Prose: Larry Beckett & Michael Goldberg

Celebrated poet and songwriter Larry Beckett will be reading from his epic poem, “Paul Bunyan,” for the first time in the Bay Area at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Joining Larry Beckett will be novelist and former Rolling Stone Senior Writer Michael Goldberg, who will read from his new novel, “Untitled.” The reading will begin at 7 pm.

If you are interested in attending, please head over to the event Facebook page and let me know.

Larry Beckett’s “Paul Bunyan” re-tells the legend of the giant lumberjack for the twenty-first century. Drawing on logger folklore, James Stevens’ stories and the Davy Crockett almanacs, Larry Beckett’s poem is a modern epic in ‘long-winded’ blank verse. It is a celebration of the everyday poetry of colloquial North American English, loose and rough, bragging and unbelievable.

Larry Beckett’s songs have been recorded by musicians all over the world; “Song to the Siren,” which he wrote with Tim Buckley, has been covered by David Gray, Robert Plant, Bryan Ferry, George Michael and Sinead O’Connor. Larry Beckett’s other books include “Songs and Sonnets” and “Beat Poetry.” He has translated many poets, including Heraclitus, Goethe and Li Po. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

About “Paul Bunyan,” San Francisco Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman wrote: “A terrific, epic-like poem based on the story of Paul Bunyan, in which Beckett creates a gigantic working-class type who is also everything and everyone. He’s mythic and his shibboleth is: Work. Beckett has written a rollicking, truly inventive long poem whose lines are sustained by a brilliant haiku-syllablation (each line has 12-15 syllables) coupled with images that bring the Bunyan myth right into the 21st Century. Certainly Beckett’s finest work to date.”

“Paul Bunyan” publisher’s page for more info is here.

Michael Goldberg is the author of three novels, “True Love Scars,” “The Flowers Lied” and “Untitled,” which comprise the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, a rock ‘n’ roil coming-of-age story set in the late Sixties and early Seventies.

What the critics say about Goldberg’s novels:

“Radioactive as Godzilla!” – Richard Meltzer

“Kerouac in the 21st Century.” – Dennis McNally

“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar…” – Simon Warner

“Holden Caulfield meets Lord Buckley?” – Paul Krassner

“Our hero drinks and drugs and dances to the nightingale tune while birds fly high by the light of the moon.” – Larry Ratso Sloman

“If Lester Bangs had ever published a novel it might read something like this frothing debut by longtime music journalist Michael Goldberg.” – Colin Fleming, Rolling Stone

The Octopus Literary Salon is located at 2101 Webster St #170, Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: (510) 844-4120

Event Facebook page.

Video: Michael Goldberg & Henry Kaiser Do Neil Young

Michael Goldberg & Henry Kaiser, May 7, 2016.
Michael Goldberg & Henry Kaiser, May 7, 2016.

Last night (May 7, 2016) myself and the amazing experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser gave a reading to a standing-room-only audience at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA.

Henry opened with a 20 minute solo electric guitar set of improvisations utilizing several guitars and a bank of effects pedals as well as a strange box that produced drum and bass based on what Henry played.

Then I joined Henry on the stage to read ten excerpts from my new rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, The Flowers Lied.

This reading was very special because Henry was accompanying me on guitar and machines. We had done this only once before, back in 2014, at Down Home Music. That was a great show, but it was totally different. Completely different vibe.

I read five longer excerpts with an “interlude” devoted to a musician or song between each. The first was about Skippy James and “I’m So Glad,” then Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” and Neil Young. Below you can hear “Interlude #4: Neil Young.”

For me, it was so very intense to stand there before the audience, all eyes on the two of us, and read words I’d spent more than six years perfecting. I had been reading my novel aloud as I wrote it. Every day for six years I read some of it aloud. Every page was read aloud and every revised page. I knew the sound of my words, my sentences, my paragraphs. I knew the rhythms of those sentences, and the music they make.

I had read in the privacy of my office. I had read before the members of three writers groups I was in: The Dangerous Writers group in Portland in 2008 and some of 2009 where all the early work got done, another group in Inverness, CA in late 2009 and 2010, and the group I led in Oakland and El Cerrito from late 2010 to late 2013.

And yet this was totally different. There really is nothing like reading before an audience in a public space, an audience silent because they want to hear the words and the music, the music of the words and the music of the music.

Here’s a taste of what went down. This is a brief excerpt from a chapter in which the narrator and his friend go to a Neil Young concert in late 1972. The first line is cut off. So I’ll tell you what it is:

“I dig Neil the most, beginning in his Buffalo Springfield days…”

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Simon Warner Reviews ‘The Flowers Lied’: ‘Beat spontaneity meets punk insolence’

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Great review by author Simon Warner, who wrote the excellent “Text and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture.”

Beat Spontaneity Meets Punk Insolence

By Simon Warner

4 stars

Delivered in a sparky, yet splintered, patois, falling somewhere between Beat spontaneity and punk insolence, Michael Goldberg’s The Flowers Lied picks up where 2014’s True Love Scars left off, as the second part of the ‘Freak Scene Dream’ trilogy carries his narrator protagonist Michael Stein into further labyrinths of neurotic insecurity, a campus caper where boy might meet girl but where the roses of romance are snared with the jagged thorns of rejection and betrayal.

Not that this is any mere love story: it’s the tale of the would-be rock ‘n’ roll writer who still believes that his new journalistic prose, and his passion for Dylan and Beefheart, can lead him towards some kind of elevated self-fulfilment. But will an enthusiasm for the Stones or the New York Dolls, a blind belief in the existential promises of the electric guitar, be enough to compensate for wretched affairs and failing friendships?

Achingly self-conscious, riddled with agonising self-doubt, Stein has the flavour of a re-cast Holden Caulfield, as this raw-nerved rite of passage travels some way from Salinger’s immediate post-war world and places itself in the early 1970s at a moment when the hippie dream seems to have lost its enticing glow.

The very title of the novel is a comment on the fact the hopes and dreams of the Sixties have largely evaporated and Stein feels caught on the lip between the fading utopian buzz and a decade hurtling towards a state of nihilistic disillusion. Writerman, as he styles himself, is keen to reject the cynicism of the age but the pallor of personal crisis tends to cloud his day-to-day judgement.

Goldberg’s skill in this dark comi-tragedy is to energetically convey his feelings – the gauge on the emotional candour button is set to 9 – and he does this through a variety of techniques: a version of the gonzo syntax, occasional stream of consciousness ramblings and a secondary internalised narrative providing commentary on his own inner curdlings.

For readers who recognise the names – the rock stars, of course, but also the great rock writers of the day, like Christgau and Willis, who also pepper the pages from time to time – this is an engaging affair, as hot music, the powerful influence of music criticism and the spice of emotional turbulence become entangled in a tornado of twisting moods: the brief elation of a Fender lick is quickly balanced by a carousel of catastrophe; the ups are fleeting, the downs last longer.

The Flowers Lied, like its predecessor, has an edgy, fractious manner, but once you get used to the frenetic style, the prose moves forward with impressive vigour and the story, quite self-indulgent in many ways, has a definite resonance for a certain generation. The fact that this second instalment ends somewhat in mid-air might be a criticism, but it certainly leaves you hungry for the concluding episode, due in 2016.

Simon Warner, author of “Text and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture”

Writer Michael Goldberg Interviewed: Dylan, Rolling Stone & More

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Andrew Hamlin interviews me for Addicted To Noise.

Among other things I talk about how Bob Dylan, Captain Beefheart and Diane Arbus changed my life, some of the most difficult artist interviews of my rock journalism career, and how I wrote my latest novel. The Flowers Lied.

Here’s how the interview begins:

From his early rock writing, to a spot as a Rolling Stone mainstay, to a pioneering Web editor/publisher, to rock as literature, Michael Goldberg, founded of the original Addicted To Noise in 1994, keeps moving and keeps his thumb pushed down deep on the blurt.

Goldberg was immersed in the punk scene in the mid-1970’s, interviewing Patti Smith and The Ramones and the Talking Heads for stories that ran in the Berkeley Barb and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. The Clash nearly threw him out of a San Francisco recording studio, the Sex Pistols tried to break his tape recorder, and Frank Zappa said if Michael Goldberg was one of his fans he was in big trouble.

Prior to starting ATN, Goldberg was an associate editor and senior writer at Rolling Stone for 10 years. His writing has also appeared in Wired, Esquire, Vibe, Details, Downbeat, NME and numerous other publications.

Goldberg has recently published The Flowers Lied, the second of three books detailing the life, work, frustrations, and passions of his protagonist, Writerman.

Who were your earliest powerful influences, literary, musical, and otherwise?

It’s rare that something you read or hear has a direct, clear-cut influence…

Read the entire interview at Addicted To Noise.

– An Addicted To Noise blog post –

Rock’s Back Pages ‘Rock Critic Excerpt’ From “The Flowers Lied”

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Those awesome editors at Rock’s Back Pages have featured me and an excerpt from my new rock novel, The Flowers Lied, on the home page of their site.

In the excerpt. which is the third chapter of the book. the narrator, Michael Stein AKA Writerman, meets two of his rock critic heroes for the first time when he visits them at The Pad, the rather decrepit apartment where both critics live and work.

The introduction to the excerpt begins:

Michael Goldberg’s rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, The Flowers Lied, has just been published. Richard Meltzer wrote that Goldberg’s first novel, True Love Scars, was “Radioactive as Godzilla.” Goldberg has been called a “21st Century Kerouac” by Kerouac biographer Dennis McNally and compared to Lester Bangs by Rolling Stone. The new novel focuses on Writerman (Michael Stein) a sophomore at The University, which is located in Northern California on hill above a beach town not unlike Santa Cruz. He’s a music freak and wannabe writer – he struggles with a Captain Beefheart album review, and tries and fails to type a single word of the Great American Novel he is so desperate to write. He pursues a hip but traumatized 18-year-old artist named Elise, who introduces him to tequila and Almaden Red. And he becomes best friends with Jim AKA Thee Freakster Bro, the over-the-top, gregarious writer/poet/music obsessive stoner he first meets in True Love Scars.

Read the entire excerpt at Rock’s Back Pages. Enjoy!

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Win A Copy of My Rock Novel, ‘The Flowers Lied’

Thrashers Wheat

Today my friends over at the awesome Neil Young site, Thrasher’s Wheat, are helping celebrate the release of my new rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, The Flowers Lied.

They’ve got a review of the book. Here’s an excerpt:

“Goldberg’s rock ‘n’ roll trilogy is an innovative coming-of-age experience tracing love and music-of-an-era. While nostalgic, it’s a beautiful evocation of a distant soundtrack still reverberating across the moonbeams like a lost Jack Kerouac in a 21st century Twitterverse with a kind of staccato amphetamine grammar that is fractured, deranged, unsettling yet compelling. A Catcher in the Rye 50+ years on, Holden Caulfield is now a hipster-hippie on a trip of misadventures in a counterculture world that’s more counter than culture where the Summer of Love turns into a Winter of War. Our hero “Writerman” careens through the haze and confusion to the true high of finding redemption and transformation.”

Also, an excerpt from a chapter in which the 19-year-old narrator and his college friend Jim attend a Neil Young concert in 1973. The narrator gets caught trying to film the concert with his Super8 camera (no cell phones back then), and they are both thrown out. While trying to find a way back in at the rear of the auditorium, they run into Neil Young as he’s about to board his tour bus. Read the excerpt to find out what happens and to get sense of what the book is like.

And finally, there’s a contest in which five winners will get print copies of the book, and five will get digital copies. The contest ends March 31, 2016 at 5 PM ET.

It’s all happening at Thrasher’s Wheat right now.

More Hype About My New Novel, The Flowers Lied

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Remember back when you first wanted to become a rock critic? Or perhaps first started reading rock reviews. Those are the days of The Flowers Lied, my new rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel.

Writerman, the narrator, is a rock critic wannabe obsessed with music – favorites include Captain Beefheart, the Blue Oyster Cult, the 13th Floor Elevators, John Coltrane, Pearls Before Swine, Slim Harpo, Neil Young, Sam Rivers the New York Dolls and, of course, Bob Dylan.

If you grew up in the ‘60s or ‘70s, or ever wondered what it was really like to be a teenager back then, I think you’ll dig this novel.

Witness Writerman fighting his record buying addition at Odyssey Records as store owner Lucky Larry guzzles Green Death and applies the “upsell”, attending a Neil Young concert in 1973 and confronting Neil backstage, pursuing the Visions of Johanna chick of this dreams and ending up naked at the top of a Ferris wheel, alone with his best friend’s girl.

What the critics say about my novels:

“If Lester Bangs had ever published a novel it might have read like this frothing debut…” – Rolling Stone

“Radioactive as Godzilla!” – Richard Meltzer

“Kerouac in the 21st Century.” – Dennis McNally

“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar…” – Simon Warner

“Holden Caulfield meets Lord Buckley?” – Paul Krassner

More info here:

The Flowers Lied – Reviews

Michael Goldberg’s New Novel, The Flowers Lied, Reviewed

Great review of my novel, The Flowers Lied, went live at the online magazine, Ragazine, March 13, 2016. Here’s an image of it but please link to the site to read it. (By the way, the book is available here.)

Reviewer M. Sedlof writes:

It’s not easy to go through life driven by an intense desire to be part of a scene that really doesn’t think it needs you. Such is the quandary of Michael Stein in The Flowers Lied, Part Two of the Freak Scene Trilogy by Michael Goldberg that began with True Love Scars. After suffering ritualistic tribulations of young love in Scars, Stein (aka, Writerman), returns to the college scene older, wiser, increasingly hell-bent on becoming the rock ‘n’ roll writer of his dreams…

Read more of the review at Ragazine.

The Flowers Lied is the second book of my rock ‘n’ roll, coming-of-age Freak Scene Dream Trilogy.

Sedlof ends his review: “So looking forward to part three.”

rag review

Get the book here.

More reviews here.

And if you are in the Bay Area on May 7, 2016, come hear me read from it at the Octopus Literary Salon while Grammy-winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser improvises.

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Novelist Michael Goldberg & Grammy Winner Henry Kaiser to Perform Together

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I’ll be reading from my new novel, The Flowers Lied, and the Grammy-winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser will be improvising when we do “a post-beat happening – words + music” on May 6, 2016 at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA.

If you’re interested, check out the events Facebook page, “a post-beat happening.”

And please let your Bay Area friends know about this.

Here’s more info:

Celebrating ex-Rolling Stone Senior Writer Michael Goldberg’s new rock ‘n’ roll novel, The Flowers Lied, Goldberg and Grammy winning experimental guitarist Henry Kaiser will collaborate on “a post-beat happening” at The Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland, CA on Saturday, May 7, 2016. Goldberg will read from his new novel while Kaiser improvises on electric guitar. Plus a solo set by Kaiser. Note that no meat will be served during this event! Free.

What the critics say about Goldberg’s novels:

“Radioactive as Godzilla!” – Richard Meltzer

“Kerouac in the 21st Century.” – Dennis McNally

“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar…” – Simon Warner

“Holden Caulfield meets Lord Buckley?” – Paul Krassner

“Our hero drinks and drugs and dances to the nightingale tune while birds fly high by the light of the moon.” – Larry Ratso Sloman

“Reads like a fever dream from the dying days of the Summer of Love.” – Alina Simone

“If Lester Bangs had ever published a novel it might read something like this frothing debut by longtime music journalist Michael Goldberg.” – Colin Fleming, Rolling Stone

Michael Goldberg was a senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine for a decade. He has interviewed Jerry Garcia, Patti Smith, George Harrison, Captain Beefheart, Stevie Wonder, Sleater-Kinney, James Brown, Frank Zappa, Berry Gordy Jr., John Fogerty, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Black Flag, The Replacements, Flipper, Robbie Robertson, Sonic Youth and many more. In 1994 Goldberg launched the first Web music magazine, Addicted To Noise, and “invented music journalism on the web,” as journalist Denise Sullivan put it. Goldberg currently writes a column, The Drama You’ve Been Craving,” for Addicted To Noise and feature stories for the online animal rights magazine, The Daily Pitchfork.

“The Flowers Lied,” the second of the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, is a story of love, friendship and the search for identity, set in the early ‘70s. Although it takes place in the past, themes running through the book — trying to live an authentic life, struggling against the powers that be, navigating the terrain between love and lust, loyalty and betrayal — are as relevant today as ever. Goldberg’s first novel, True Love Scars, was published in 2014.

Henry Kaiser in action - not to be missed.
Henry Kaiser in action – not to be missed.

Grammy winner Henry Kaiser is widely recognized as one of the most creative and innovative guitarists, improvisers, and producers in the fields of rock, jazz, world, and contemporary experimental musics. The California-based musician is one of the most extensively recorded as well, having appeared on more than 250 different albums and contributed to countless television and film soundtracks.

A restless collaborator who constantly seeks the most diverse and personally challenging contexts for his music, Mr. Kaiser not only produces and contributes to a staggering number of recorded projects, he performs frequently throughout the USA, Canada, Europe and Japan, with several regular groupings as well as solo guitar concerts and concerts of freely improvised music with a host of diverse instrumentalists. Among the numerous artists Kaiser has recorded or performed with are Herbie Hancock, Richard Thompson, David Lindley, Jerry Garcia, Steve Lacy, Fred Frith, Terry Riley, Negativland, Michael Stipe, Jim O’Rourke, Victoria Williams, Diamanda Galas and Cecil Taylor. Kaiser’s latest album, The Celestial Squid, was released last year.

The Octopus Literary Salon is located at 2101 Webster St #170, Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: (510) 844-4120

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –

Michael Goldberg’s Novel, The Flowers Lied, Due Soon

Just wanted to offer a preview of the cover art from my upcoming novel, The Flowers Lied.

The book, a rock ‘n’ roll coming-of-age novel, will be available in October.

If you are interested in reviewing it, let me know and I’ll get you an advance copy. Post a comment letting me know and I’ll be in touch.

Here’s some advance praise:

“There was a time when (rock) music was the living pulse of a generation, when wanting to be a rock critic was a credible dream. That is the era of the Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, an ambitious and ultimately successful attempt at recasting the coming-of-age-in-the-wake-of-the-sixties-experience in innovative but authentic language, Kerouac in the 21st century. It jitters around in ever-accumulating fine detail that traces young love and desire and the pure true heart of the era, the music. It was a pivotal time, and Volume II, ‘The Flowers Lied,’ captures it.” — DENNIS MCNALLY, author of “A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead” and “Desolate Angel: Jack Kerouac, The Beat Generation & America”

“Goldberg presents us with a beautiful evocation of the Seventies where the music wasn’t just the soundtrack to our lives but the auteur of them. Writerman, our hero, drinks and drugs and dances to the nightingale tune while birds fly high by the light of the moon. Oh, oh, oh, oh Writerman!” — LARRY RATSO SLOMAN, author of “On the Road with Bob Dylan”

“Aspiring rock journalist Michael Stein (aka Writerman) returns in the second installment of Goldberg’s Freak Scene Dream Trilogy, picking up the narrative where he left off and fumbling his way across the countercultural landscape of the early Seventies like some less jaded, wannabe-hippie version of Holden Caulfield. This slightly-older-but-not-necessarily-wiser Stein, along with his inner circle of equally confused post-adolescents, is more fleshed-out as a character than in the previous (though superb) ‘True Love Scars.’ As a result the scenarios he finds himself thrust into, not to mention the occasional disaster of his own making, ring with an additional authenticity that will leave anyone who lived through the same era nodding with recognition. Some will even fidget uncomfortably in their seats, as I did—credit to Goldberg’s keen ability to channel his/our own misspent youth while sketching a series of remarkably believable portraits.

“Among the more memorable scenes: a hamfisted attempt to get his rock journalism published in the college newspaper, even more awkward attempts to get laid (that include at least one success, with his best friend’s girlfriend, no less, in a gondola at the top of a Ferris wheel), getting thrown out of a Neil Young concert by one of Bill Graham’s goons, navigating a surreal Halloween party while peaking on LSD, and kibitzing with a popular Lester Bangs-esque rock-crit. Along the way we get cameos from Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Captain Beefheart, the New York Dolls, Slim Harpo, James Brown, John Fowles, Sartre, Dostoyevsky and Godard. Settle in, crack open a bottle and/or spark a doob, and get ready for an emotional rollercoaster ride. Oh, and don’t touch the Thorens.” — FRED MILLS, editor, Blurt magazine

And a few excerpts from reviews of my previous novel, True Love Scars:

“If Lester Bangs had ever published a novel it might have read something like this frothing debut by longtime music journalist Michael Goldberg… Readers from any musical era will come away with a deeper appreciation of how nostalgia can shape our lives, for better and for worse.” — COLIN FLEMING, Rolling Stone

“Michael Goldberg is comparable to Kerouac in a 21st century way, someone trying to use that language and energy and find a new way of doing it.” — MARK MORDUE, author of “Dastgah: Diary of a Head Trip”

“Penned in a staccato amphetamine grammar, its narrative is fractured and deranged, often unsettling but frequently compelling, an unsparing portrait of the teen condition: assured then despairing, would-be sex god then impotent has-been, an only child battling the wills of his domineering father and interfering mom in the anonymous, suburban fringes of Marin County.”
 — SIMON WARNER, author of “Text and Drugs and Rock’n’Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture”

“Just call it a portrait of the rock critic as a young freakster bro, coming of age in the glorious peace-and-love innocence of the Sixties dream, only to crash precipitously, post-Altamont into the drug-ridden paranoia of the Seventies, characterized by the doom and gloom of the Stones’ sinister “Sister Morphine” and the apocalyptic caw-caw-caw of a pair of ubiquitous crows.” — ROY TRAKIN, Trakin Care of Business column

– A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post –