In 1976, the critic Paul Nelson spent several weeks interviewing his literary hero, legendary detective writer Ross Macdonald. Beginning in the late 1940s with his shadowy creation, ruminating private eye Lew Archer, Macdonald had followed in the footsteps of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, but ultimately elevated the form to a new level. "We talked about everything imaginable," Nelson wrote―including Macdonald's often meager beginnings; his dual citizenship; writers, painters, music, books, and movies he admired; how he used symbolism to change detective writing; his own novels and why Archer was not the most important character―"my God, everything."
"It's All One Case is the most important work of mystery scholarship to have emerged this century." —John Connolly, author of The Charlie Parker Mysteries
"Ross Macdonald, in the view of many, was the greatest detective-novelist ever—an author who earned a place amongst the best fiction-writers of his time.
"Paul Nelson was a highly regarded journalist and critic for Rolling Stone and other counter-culture publications of the 1960s and '70s.
"In 1976, these two writers came together for a series of interviews in which Nelson induced the taciturn Macdonald, a man of formidable intelligence, to speak at length and in gratifying detail on all manner of topics: autobiographical, sociological, aesthetic, and (especially) literary.
"The stimulating and absorbing results of their many hours of talk are presented now in It's All One Case, edited, annotated, and introduced by Kevin Avery, whose devotion to Paul Nelson's legacy is as notable and admirable as was Nelson's interest in Ross Macdonald.
"It's All One Case—with its close analysis of several novels, its dazzling foreword by Jerome Charyn, and its plethora of images from the phenomenal Macdonald collection of Jeff Wong—will be of enormous interest not only to veteran Ross Macdonald enthusiasts but also to those in want of an introduction to this brilliant creator." —Tom Nolan, author of Ross Macdonald: A Biography (1999), co-editor (with Suzanne Marrs) of Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald (2015)
In 1979, Paul Nelson embarked on an a series of interviews with Clint Eastwood that lasted until 1983 and that, until now, remained unpublished. Back then, few of Eastwood's critics could have predicted—nor would they most likely have gone on record if they had—that the actor-director would ever be taken as seriously as he is today. But Paul Nelson did.
"Kevin Avery has performed a great service to film lovers by bringing to light Paul Nelson's remarkable interviews with Clint Eastwood. Nelson was an appreciator of Eastwood in the seventies, before he had won wide critical recognition. In these fascinating and wide-ranging conversations, the actor-director discusses with complete candor both the art of his films and the realities of filmmaking in Hollywood." —Andrew Sarris, author of The American Cinema: Directors and Directions 1929 - 1968
"Paul Nelson was the first serious film aficionado who, way back in the early 70s, turned me on to the importance of Clint Eastwood as an actor, filmmaker and American icon. He showed me the S&W Magnum .44 he kept under a pile of sweaters in his closet. ‘Same as Dirty Harry,' he said, explaining that if he was going to write about men with guns he had to know how it felt in his hand. We were both devoted to F. Scott Fitzgerald and hoping that Clint Eastwood would play Gatsby in the upcoming film, which, of course, he didn't.
"The repartee between these two straight shooters is more revealing of the inner workings of Hollywood and the creative process of Clint Eastwood than anything I've ever read before." —Elliott Murphy, singer-songwriter
"An amazing find! Hip journalist Paul Nelson’s lengthy, detailed, casual yet riveting, long-believed lost conversations with the iconic director-producer-star Clint Eastwood, who has had one of the most extraordinary careers in the history of the American screen. A must for any true film lover."
—Peter Bogdanovich, director,
writer, actor, critic
"At a time when most critics didn’t take Clint Eastwood seriously, he had no admirer more prescient or loving than the late Paul Nelson. And Nelson—still insufficiently appreciated for his stubborn indifference to fashionability, but a smoke-wreathed legend to his 1970s colleagues—will never have a posthumous rescuer more devoted and scrupulous than Kevin Avery. Unguarded, searching, and occasionally very funny, the uniquely intimate interviews collected in Conversations with Clint morph as we read into the ideal script for a lost Eastwood movie on the nature of friendship. I’m sure Paul would be pleased that the alternate title that kept springing to mind was that of a John Ford Western: Two Rode Together." —Tom Carson, critic for GQ and author of Daisy Buchanan's Daughter
"This is what happens when an artist interviews an artist: Nelson’s acute critical engagement with Eastwood’s films yields more insight from the moviemaker than any reader could have hoped for. Can a collection of interviews be called poignantly brilliant? This one is." —Ken Tucker Entertainment Weekly
"I found that Conversations with Clint is invaluable reading, not just because it’s a uniquely in-depth series of interviews with someone who always had a sense of himself as an enduring figure. It also takes us inside the head of Paul Nelson—the interviewer himself—whose states of mind complete the story. The best interviews have always been two-sided—a conversation—and Conversations is just that: a compelling look at an extended eyeball-to-eyeball encounter, complete with blinks and flinches." —Elvis Mitchell, host of KCRW’s The Treatment
"Paul Nelson's resurrected 'lost' interviews represent deep-dish Clint. Nelson recognized the magnitude of the actor-director's talents earlier than most—Eastwood had only made it up to Sudden Impact in 1983 by the time of the final interview—and they clearly had an easy rapport. The result sees the star opening up on his early struggles, how he learned from observing on Rawhide, his close collaborations with Sergio Leone and Don Siegel, money, politics, celebrity, and why he prefers early Bergman and Kurosawa to their late.r films. Clint has given many interviews, but this is one of his best, definitely of great interest to anyone who takes his work seriously" —Todd McCarthy, critic for The Hollywood Reporter
"If it wasn't for Kevin Avery, the life and work of one of the world's first and greatest rock writers might otherwise have remained scattered in time and space. Written and compiled with intelligence, meticulousness, and passion, Everything Is an Afterthought is simultaneously a moving biography, a classic criticism anthology, an earnest expression of fandom, and, most importantly, an overdue addition to the canon of essential rock books." —Neil Strauss, author of The Game and Everyone Loves You When You're Dead
"Everything Is an Afterthought is remarkable. A biography, literary excavation, history of rock 'n' roll—New York wing. Kevin Avery summons all appropriate demons for a party of the first quality. Everyone is present and speaking, as if for the first time. All your heroes, all everyone's heroes. If you care about the culture of the Sixties and the years that followed, you must read this book."
novelist and short story writer
"F. Scott Fitzgerald said, 'Show me a hero and I'll write you a tragedy.' Once upon a time, Paul Nelson was my hero and in many ways his life was a tragedy. But nobody ever wrote about the music that matters with such poetic intensity, such delirious commitment as Paul did. He opened my eyes, ears and imagination to the holy trinity of Music, Books & Films. Everything Is an Afterthought is a finely written and well-deserved legacy ... Thanks Kevin Avery." —Elliott Murphy, singer-songwriter
"Paul Nelson's life was a fierce quiet drama of devotion to culture, with a run of triumphs along the way to a slow-motion tragedy. This book restores the triumphs of his writing to a conversation that may not have known, or remembered, what it was missing. That alone would make this book essential; the biographical research, the unpublished pieces, and the photographs make it a human saga as well, as heartbreaking as the novel or film Nelson never managed to write. The whole thing proceeds out of Kevin Avery's own quiet devotion, for which I can hardly express my gratitude." —Jonathan Lethem, author of Chronic City and Motherless Brooklyn
"Paul was a classic personality of his times. Radically talented, seriously flawed, loved by many of us, forgotten by too many of us, Kevin Avery brings him to life in his sympathetic biography and his fine selection of Paul's writing." —Jon Landau, producer and critic
"This book beautifully balances Paul Nelson's life and work, the struggling man and the gifted craftsman. Its Nelson is equal parts Hammett and Bartleby, a connoisseur and a Coke-head, possessed of wisdom and uniquely self-destructive. That Paul's actual writing makes up half the book takes nothing away from Kevin Avery's scrupulous reporting and remarkable empathy with his subject. I don't know if the story of my friend and mentor, colleague and neighbor will break your heart. But that's exactly what it did to mine, and in a way that leaves me grateful."
—Dave Marsh, author and
SiriusXM radio show host
"Paul was his own kind of subterranean--disappearing around corners on the surface, thinking his way through the catacombs beneath it. He cultivated his obsessions over decades, until he could pass on the glow they gave off for him to other people. He left behind more than one ghost, and many of them are in this book."
—Greil Marcus, author of Like a Rolling
Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads
"This is a rich and mysterious book. Kevin Avery has glimpsed Nelson's soul, and the image he presents is fascinating and deeply human. Avery's respect (and affection) for Nelson is evident, but the details he presents of this elusive man's life are effectively clear-eyed. We sense the joy in Nelson's creative gift and equally shiver in the shadows of his dark side.
"Yet, shimmering through it all are Nelson's words. No one wrote about music the way he did. You can feel the rhythm in every phrase. His writing moves like an effortlessly constructed wave carrying insight, understanding, and thought that is always profoundly satisfying and original." —Tom DiCillo, writer-director
"In this riveting, original and comprehensive biography, Avery not only captures the essence of one of the first and finest chroniclers of rock and roll history, but he gives us insight into the oddly mysterious character that so many called 'friend.' Paul Nelson was as odd as he was honest, as eccentric as he was salt-of-the-earth, as outspoken as he was introverted—a brilliant journalist who walked away from it all and left us wanting. Thank you, Kevin Avery, for your masterful portrait of this important man, and for bringing back to life his work, without which no history of rock and roll would be complete."
—Crystal Zevon, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead:
The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon
"Kevin Avery has done something heroic here. Avery has rescued the work and the passion, the life and the meaning of the great Paul Nelson. Nelson was a deep and beautiful writer, mysterious and painstaking and brilliant. Thanks to Avery and Everything Is an Afterthought, Paul Nelson's work finally has a home. This wonderful writing is here for the faithful, and now forever available for new fans who'll never forget him."
—Cameron Crowe, writer-director of
Almost Famous and Jerry Maguire
"Paul was one of my first and most ardent supporters when I played at Max's Kansas City. He was one of the great early voices of rock criticism."
"Like the very greatest critics, Paul Nelson took whatever he wrote about far too personally. He was a dynamo of hyper-responsiveness, his tastes forever in motion and never at rest. This book is a chance to tap into his mind and energize our own minds in the process. Just make sure to read it at full volume."
—Walter Kirn author of
Up in the Air and Thumbsucker
"Here is the gospel according to Paul Nelson. Finally, that unholy ghost in Rock-kritics' Trinity—with Lester the father, Nick Kent the bastard son—has received his due. Amen to Avery."
—Clinton Heylin, author of
Dylan Behind the Shades