CONTINUUM'S 33 1/3 series of pocket-sized books on classic albums tackles Wowee Zowee just in time for Pavement's 2010 reunion, and like other installments, this one takes a slightly off-kilter angle. The book is written by novelist Bryan Charles, whose approach is an ideal match for Pavement's laconic, tossed-off style. Charles puts himself in the center of the book—we read about his aimless college years in Michigan and his discovery of Pavement, whose songs initially seem half hearted, even bratty, but actually contain an undertow of emotion that's hard to articulate.
Charles' writing is the same way. He succinctly captures the flavor of being in one's late teens and early 20s without going into unnecessary detail. Finishing school, he undergoes that arduous, interminable crisis of figuring out what to do with life, discovering that one of the only things that still makes sense is Pavement. Charles returns to the band time and again, the music weaving a thread through his life. The book includes unvarnished interviews with members of the band, providing an honest, first-person account of the making of the record. But the heart of the book isn't Pavement; it's Charles, and novelist or no, he has turned in one of the best pieces of rock journalism in recent memory—a no-bullshit, heartfelt manifesto of fandom.
Charles reads with Mike McGonigal (Yeti), who penned a 33 1/3 installment on My Bloody Valentine's Loveless.