Daily Press (Sunday)



1. “The Exchange” by John Grisham

(Doubleday) Last week: —

2. “Fourth Wing” by Rebecca Yarros

Last week: 2

3. “Tom Lake” by Ann Patchett

Last week: 8

4. “Holly” by Stephen King

5. “Judgment Prey” by John Sandford

Last week: 4

6. “The Armor of Light” by Ken Follett

Last week: 6


(Scribner) Last week: 3

7. “Second Act” by Danielle Steel

Last week: 7

8. “Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver

(Harper) Last week: 11

9. “Blood Lines” by Nelson DeMille and Alex DeMille

(Scribner) Last week: 5

10.“The Covenant of Water”by Abraham Verghese

(Grove) Last week: 13

(Red Tower)




What comes to mind when the word “goth” is spoken? Is it Tim Burton films? The pop star Billie Eilish? An adolescent phase marked by black nail polish and nihilism? Or is it a lifestyle? Is it literature such as Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven,” Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenste­in” or the writings of Emily Brontë? Is it a musical genre born out of late’70s punk and dread?

For Lol Tolhurst, cofounder of the influentia­l “goth” band the Cure, it’s all of the above. He explores what he calls

“the last true alternativ­e outsider subculture” in a new book, “Goth: A History,” recently published by Hachette. It follows his first book, the 2016 memoir “Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys.”

Tolhurst says inspiratio­n for this second book came from a lack of understand­ing. “People had (goth) confused. They saw the outward signs, the dark clothing, and they thought that was what it was all about, gloom and doom. And it’s actually a lot more subtle than that,” he explained.

Ask for a definition, however, and that misses crucial nuance. “It’s not really a fashion,” he said. “It’s more of a philosophy in a way of being, a way of approachin­g the world. And I think that ensures its longevity. It’s malleable, but it’s sort of basic premise is always the same.”

In “Goth,” Tolhurst says he was inspired by the writings of Joan Didion — and so he weaves in first-person accounts while exploring goth music’s origins from punk’s anarchy. The main difference between the two genres, as well as goth’s idiosyncra­sies from other rock music, is that goth is about “love and death” in the same song, and “that the ideas are generally about the invisible and internal in life more than the external and visible,” he said.

From there, the book dives into Gothic literature and the French existentia­lists, whom Tolhurst considers formative to the subculture. That leads to an abridged history of the music from the progenitor­s: musicians such as the Doors, Suicide, Nico, David Bowie. The book looks at goth icons such as Joy Division, Bauhaus and Siouxsie and the Banshees. It explores the goth scene through famed clubs like the Batcave in London that were also havens for the LGBTQ+ community. That leads to a look at modern goth groups like Nine Inch Nails, the Belarusian postpunks Molchat Doma and beyond.

Throughout “Goth,” Tolhurst shares charming anecdotes, like a scene where Bauhaus members enter a New

York City bar for the first time, find singer Iggy Pop sitting there and become so excited to see their hero that frontman Peter Murphy starts tickling Pop.

There’s humor in goth, after all — another misconcept­ion Tolhurst works to correct.

At the end, Tolhurst returns to the philosophi­cal questions surroundin­g “goth” — what it means that “goths” tend to stay that way through adulthood and what can be learned from the nonconform­ist communitie­s it creates.

Certain trends emerge within that exploratio­n, and certain geographie­s. The musical story largely takes place in England and Los Angeles, the latter of which Tolhurst has called home for a few decades. Los Angeles was also home to psych-rock band the Doors, who were the first group described as “gothic rock” by critic John Stickney in 1967.

Tolhurst theorizes that England became ground zero for the movement because of many factors, but the gray skies, rainy weather and Gothic architectu­re cannot be discounted.

Elsewhere, he draws connection­s between goth and Catholicis­m, a relationsh­ip Tolhurst believes goes beyond a shared iconograph­y and morbidity. “Catholicis­m is brimstone, hell fire,” he said. “Good music tends not to surface when things are going along great and everything’s tickety-boo.”

If there is a single takeaway, it is that Tolhurst views goth as interdisci­plinary — an ideology that spans different art forms, mediums and generation­s, one that shape-shifts with whoever finds interest in it.

“I’m showing people that I’m grateful to something, a way of being, a way of life and a way of responding to the world,” he said of the book. “Which, in the end, is pretty much the whole point of being alive.”

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 ?? ?? By Lol Tolhurst; Hachette Books, 256 pages, $29.
By Lol Tolhurst; Hachette Books, 256 pages, $29.

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