Jessica Hopper at Bookforum:
Sticky Fingers raises an overdue question: Is the era of devoting epic tomes to the exploits of mercurial pricks officially over? If so, Joe Hagan’s skilled filleting of Jann Wenner’s history as the publisher of Rolling Stone magazine is one hell of a coffin nail.
The book was born over lunch at an upstate New York eatery. Wenner, in his egotism, offered Hagan, then a journalist at New York magazine, unfettered access and deep cooperation (he asked to review only details of his sex life, which are nonetheless abundant), without requiring final approval, so sure was he that Hagan’s excavation would evince his greatness. As it turns out, Wenner is furious about Hagan’s final product. After reading a prepublication galley of Sticky Fingers, the New York Post reports, a furious Wenner kicked Hagan off the bill of a panel discussion they were supposed to co-headline. Wenner’s cocksure bargain didn’t go as he’d planned—instead of further enshrining the myth of “Mr. Rolling Stone,” Hagan rightsized his legacy entirely.
Hagan, quite clearly, is without an agenda, and Sticky Fingers is not posited as a takedown of “Mr. Rolling Stone.” Still, the tenor of the accounting of Wenner’s life after 1967, the year he founded the magazine, is inevitably shaped largely by the fact that everyone who has ever loved or liked him seemingly loathed him in equal measure (the holdouts being Tom Wolfe, Wenner’s son Gus, possibly Bette Midler). Many offer remembrances from the seat of betrayal, often one that’s been steeped in acid resentment for decades.