BJÖRK: WOW AND FLUTTER by Mark Pytlik (ECW), 230 pages, $19.95 paper. Rating: NNN
Local tabloidish press ecw is known for its glossy mass-market celeb bios that read like something between a record-label press release and a teenage girl's fan club newsletter. Never officially sanctioned, the tomes tend to be cobbled together from fawning news clippings, with nary an original thought in sight. Thankfully, Bjork: Wow And Flutter is head and shoulders above the typical mash note. Local music scribe Mark Pytlik did painstaking research for the bio (including an extended trip to Iceland), and it shows.
Essentially a chronological overview of the singer/actor/eccentric's career, the book is meticulously detailed and offers admirable critical analysis of Bjork's work. In fact, it's written less for lay fans than for music geeks, with healthy dollops of criticspeak and an overriding assumption that readers are familiar with the obscure-ish musicians (808State, Red Snapper) who make frequent guest appearances throughout.
Sure, there are some flaws. Pytlik has a nasty habit of overwriting, for one. So bands don't just take a break; they're "rendered dormant." His trick of distinguishing between original interviews (with Bjork's father, for instance) and press quotes by using present and past tenses respectively can be bloody. And the lack of any thematic threads makes the book less engaging than it might be.
That said, Pytlik makes the most of a very limited genre. His bio is informative (who knew there was a vault of shelved Bjork/Wu-Tang collaborations?) and avoids the pitfall - particularly common in bios of female artists - of turning the tale into a slavish gossipfest that ignores artistic output for domestic drama.
A decent overview of the Icelandic oddball.