The Collected Works of Boyd Rice BOOK reviewed by Steve Miller

Book Reviews
The Collected Works of Boyd Rice BOOK reviewed by Steve Miller
May 15, 2009, 08:09



A comprehensive collection that includes photography, lyrics and essays from the prolific career of culture-vulture pain-in-the-ass Boyd Rice, a man whose links to characters such as Satanist Anton LeVey, sundry evil-is-good prognosticators and Family father Charles Manson make him an A-lister for the mind-control crew and royalty to the social Darwinist collective.

Boyd Rice excels in his social commentary essays and stories via vehicles like Modern Drunkard and Answer Me!, then falls down embarrassingly when he attempts loftier dialog on the world at large. His flimsy stabs adapting an East Coast literary style drag his larger work down. But when he is spinning his common sense jabs at ridiculous things like politically-correct bumper stickers (“Passive Activism”) or making a case that the U.S. war on terror is “a war between cultures that drink and those that don't” (“Booze vs. Baghdad”), Boyd is a critic on his own terms and a damn good one.

Also among the literary collection here are a couple of his previously unpublished book proposals, including a book that would chronicle TV's singing actors including Jim Nabors, Jack Webb and Telly Savalas. Excellent idea. But where is the whole proposal?

The demerits here are the dubious—an unpublished account of Rice's visits with Manson in San Quentin lack credibility.

Entering one of what he claims were three checkpoints for contact visits at the famously secure prison, a guard remarked on a hat Rice was wearing: “It was a West German army cap, based on a design originally used by the Nazis. I told her I'd gotten it at a gun show.”

Highly unlikely, even in 1987, when Rice claims his visits to the prison began. As a reporter who has made numerous jailhouse and prison visits, hats are considered a security risk. I know that today, inmate visiting guidelines at San Quentin specify as prohibited items, “Clothing that resembles law enforcement or military-type clothing, including rain gear” and “Hats, wigs or hairpieces except with prior written approval of the visiting sergeant.”

A reader can draw conclusions here—Rice lacks credibility, for one, although I'd bet he enjoys a reputation for embellishment.

Or preferably, we can leave it with a stance of ‘let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story.'

Rice's photos, in suitable black and white, are pedestrian and his halftones are rather plain as well. Both are reprinted for a posthumous appraisal here and while they should be part of any collection of his works, they expose an innocence on his part—it's usually iron clad New Yorkers who are so out-of-touch to regard routine underexposures and reverse images as art.

Rice's music comes from a place that was best measured in his early noise recordings starting in the mid-70s—simple tape loops and an early appreciation of sampling. Here we are treated to a batch of his song lyrics and self-assessments starting in 1990 and a good look of his later works in NON and otherwise. Could we have a CD as well as part of this collection?

Standing in Two Circles begins with a biography of Rice by publisher Brian Clark, which is well written and gives even a novice reader a good sense of what will be laid out in the book's pages.

Boyd is a right-place guy who knows which buttons to push and how to maneuver himself in, well, at least two circles. He's made his mark and it's about time we see something like this.Â

- Miller


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