Recommended by Sean Nelson
The existential soul cry of the white male baby boomer has only recently exited the center of attention in the culture it used to effortlessly dominate. Nevertheless, the sound it makes can often reverberate with intriguing, even lovely resonances. Which is to say: If you’re still trying to figure out why your parents never let their love for you interfere with their quest to love themselves, you could do worse than spending some time with Liner Notes, the new memoir by the staggeringly frank, reliably brilliant songwriter Loudon Wainwright. Along the way, he treats his relationships with his kids (including Rufus and Martha, both also brilliant), wives, and parents with candor but not sentimentality—the same heady, occasionally infuriating mixture he brings to his music. And if he doesn’t quite solve the puzzle of life’s meaning, he does give an excellent illustration of the human principle that no amount of privilege is so great that suffering can’t be extracted from it. The book is good, but I’m willing to bet that given Wainwright’s gifts as a performer, the reading will be even better.