Archive for August, 2014

This review was first posted at West of Mars. It’s being reposted here, at its new permanent home.

The nice thing about my continued growth as an expert in Rock Fiction is that people send me books. Go Now, Richard Hell’s 1996 novel (novella? I didn’t count the words) is one of those books that showed up with a Random Act of BookCrossing Kindness.

I picked it up the other day because I needed a quickie read, and it was a skinny book. How’s that for prioritizing your stack of To Be Reads?

Richard Hell has been around music for a long time, most notably as a founding member of the Voidoids. He’s also been around drugs for a long time. No wonder they came together — sort of — in the Rock Fiction book, Go Now.

Actually, I’d call this more of a Road Trip book than a work of Rock Fiction. Sure, we’re told Billy is in a band, but between the drugs and the adventure, we don’t really see much in terms of music. At most, I’d call this one of those fringe books in the Rock Fiction genre: there’s a guy who makes music, but that’s the extent of it.

So we’ve got this road trip, and at the same time, we’ve got the story of a junkie. The two can’t mesh well, and they don’t. Billy is a train wreck, but what junkie isn’t?

This is my issue. I’m not a fan of junkie fiction. I’m not a fan of train wrecks. I need something redeeming in a character, and there just isn’t much redeemable about someone who’s trapped in a very dark, needy place. Add in the fact that I can’t relate to a junkie’s lifestyle and … yeah. I’m doomed.

In the right hands, this book will be viewed as a fabulous work of fiction. Billy’s written with an authenticity that rings so very true, even if I hadn’t known anything about Richard Hell, I’d be able to tell Billy is based on some autobiographical traits.

While this wasn’t my sort of read, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good one. If you’re into Road Trip Junkie stories with only a hint of Rock Fiction, go for it. Send me the link to your own review and I’ll add it on the Rock Fiction page.

This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

I’ll admit it: when I saw Wynonna Judd listed as an author whose book I could check out from the library through my iPod, I was skeptical. I expected pulp on a par with Jackie Collins. I might have even snickered a little bit.

So, okay, sure. I downloaded it via Overdrive, the greatest little invention since the iPod itself, and … devoured this book. I just loved it. It’s the story of Destiny Hart and her rise to fame — and her need to explore her love for her hometown’s baseball coach.

Look, okay? The heroine’s name is Destiny Hart. This ain’t something on a par with Michael Shilling’s Rock Bottom. This is a light, fluffy, feel-good book that delivers exactly what it promises. Even the more serious subplot about Destiny’s parents, while too familiar for comfort, isn’t high literature.

Restless Heart doesn’t pretend to be. It is what it is, and we can take it or leave it.

I’m taking it. This was a fun, energetic read that was hard to put down. Destiny seems very real, albeit a bit formulaic. Her problems with Seth are probably as real as they get; you love someone but you also feel a pull toward something else, something that’ll take you away from him. How you negotiate these twin loves is what life is all about.

And maybe best of all, I can’t pick apart the inaccuracies in the music world. After all, Wynonna Judd knows the music biz better than I do. And while there may be some liberties taken for the story to hold together, that’s okay. It works. It still reeks of authenticity, and that’s what matters here. We need to be able to trust the rock and roll as much as we trust the other elements in a book: plot, characters, and setting.

A definite West of Mars Recommended Read, folks, if only because it’s just darn fun.