Lou Reed: The King of New York

Farrar. Oct. 2023. 560p. ISBN 9780374193393. $35. BIOG
This lengthy biography of the late Velvet Underground cofounder and musician/poet/provocateur discusses his long association with New York City, collaborations with megastars such as Bowie, Warhol, Robert Wilson, and Delmore Schwartz, and his relationships with men and women, including his marriage to performance artist Laurie Anderson. Relying on NYPL’s Reed archives and numerous secondary- and primary-source interviews, Hermes (Love Goes to Buildings on Fire) chronicles Reed’s (1942–2013) wild life and times. Hermes admiringly emphasizes Reed’s gender-fluid, nonbinary lifestyle and output, parsing song lyrics and quoting friends, enemies, and family. He excels at describing songs and concerts by the Velvets and Reed as a solo artist but occasionally falls into the trap of musing about what Reed might have been thinking, reading, or reacting to. There is a frank discussion of Reed’s drug use and reputation as a difficult collaborator and partner, but Hermes also reveals Reed’s softer side, especially after he cleaned up and met Anderson.
VERDICT With a stupendously long notes section, a more than 22-page index, chapters headed thesis-style, with the subjects covered therein, and street addresses of practically everywhere Reed went, this title is for mega-fans and those wishing they could’ve lived in New York when it was all going down.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing