Posts Tagged ‘coming of age’

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Right off, I like it. We don’t get a lot of jazz here at The Rock of Pages, which is too bad. Jazz is awesome music.

Here’s what the book’s about:

While all Mississippi bakes in the scorching summer of 1925, a sudden orphanhood casts its icy shadow across Emily Ann Teegarten, a pretty young teen. Taken in by an aunt bent on ridding herself of this unexpected burden, “Baby” Teegarten plots her escape using the only means at her disposal: a voice that makes church ladies cry and angels take notice. “I’m gonna sing jazz up to New York City,” she brags to anybody who’ll listen. ‘Cept that Big Apple–well, it’s an awful long way from that dry patch of earth she used to call home. So when the smoky stages of New Orleans speakeasies give a whistle, offering all kinda shortcuts, Emily soon learns it’s the whorehouses and drug joints promising to tickle more than just a young girl’s fancy that can dim a spotlight . . . and knowing the wrong people can snuff it out. Jazz Baby just wants to sing–not fight to stay alive.

Wow, there’s a lot going on in here that makes me absolutely drool to read this… the period, the fight to get to New York, the atmosphere of New Orleans… Maybe I’m being romantic, but this one could have it all. Or maybe, based on those last few sentences, it can turn kinda typical and boring. Only one way to find out, but my money’s still on the great romance of the story itself!

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Susan sent me this one last summer, during one of the Smashwords sales and I’d meant to set up an account there, but it got away. Guess I shouldn’t have spent every minute last summer that I could at the pools, even though it was fun and totally relaxing and I needed it. (and I can hear Susan protesting and rolling her eyes and offering to let me spend a few days with her kids and THEN tell her I needed it.)

Anyway, to go by this one’s description, I let a good one get away ’cause it was free during the summer and now it’s back up to $4.99. Ready?

Hoping they’ll never be caught, Bobby Masters and his imposter band work cowboy bars and tiny college dances during the summer of 1964, pretending to be The Romeos, a popular group with a real hit record. But fate, along with a go-go dancing sorority girl, turns these young men and their notions of love and the future upside-down in this coming-of-age story.

I’m not sure what’s more fun here: the go-go dancing sorority girl or the imposter angle.

I need to read this one. Dammit. I had all those days at the pool when I could have.

Get your own copy. Use the link and Susan’ll get a few pennies that she might actually pay me some of. Maybe. I have sunscreen to buy.

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Have I got a doozy for you today… or not. This one can go either way, and here’s why. It’s not written by a writer, per se. Carla Harvey’s name is probably more popularly linked with The Butcher Babies and if you don’t know who THEY are, well, you’re missing out on some rockin’ music. (And, if you’re a guy, some hot chicks.) Or maybe you know Carla from her days as an adult entertainer and frankly, I’m not sure what that means exactly. Dancer? Movie star? Both? I’ll let you be the sucker who Googles her.

Now, Carla’s inexperience in the publishing world is pretty clear. Look at how she opens the page on her website about the book:

It has been a dream of mine to release this novel for a very long time. It’s finally here!

This book is not for everyone. It is a raw, graphic work of creative non fiction. Decide for yourself what is real, and what is not 😉

So first she says it’s fiction. Then she says it’s non-fiction. And then she says to decide for yourself.

Color Jett here confused. I mean, hello? I’m the reader. It’s not my job to decide. That’s your job, as the author, to know what sort of book you’ve written. And it’s the publisher’s job to know things like genre and category and which shelf on a bookstore it belongs on.

But anyway, here’s what it’s about:

Autumn Franklin is an awkward, biracial girl growing up in a suburb of Detroit. Already disconnected from her peers at an early age because of her background, she becomes even more withdrawn when her young parents divorce. Ever changing but stubbornly tenacious, she survives the cards she’s been dealt by playing them against the odds. Hurt her and she will not hesitate to “kill you off,” making it easier to walk away.

Transplanting herself from her factory-driven hometown to the alluring City of Angels, she has but one goal: to find herself. Struggling to make solid connections with those around her, Autumn swallows her reservations and pushes limits to the extreme as she transitions between two drastic career changes: from the bowels of the adult entertainment industry to her rebirth as a mortician. There amongst the dead, she learns what it is to live, love, and to allow others inside, finally landing in the most comfortable place of all: her own skin.

So… is it Rock Fiction or not? I’d bet there’s some rock and roll happening in there. And, of course, we have to wonder if this is Rock FICTION at all, or if it’s totally her story, with a different name plastered on the main character, sorta like Pamela Anderson’s Star. What’s the word for that? Roman a clef? Yeah. That.

Only one way to find out…

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

When I finished reading Joe Meno’s Hairstyles of the Damned, I had two thoughts. First was that this book belongs on my list of rock and roll fiction. The mix tapes, the way these characters connect to music and allow it to define their identity make this a slam-dunk to be included on the list.

My other thought wasn’t quite so charitable. You see, I recently read The Secret Fruit of Peter Paddington, and these two books were quite similar. The themes of young boys in puberty, beginning to navigate the mine field that is girls, alienation from the parents (or was that in Snow Angels?)… Even Booklist, the venerated book review source, said, “This is worthy if familiar stuff.”

That sums it up, I think.

Except Hairstyles did something the other two I just mentioned failed to: evoke a strong sense of nostalgia. The afore-mentioned Snow Angels was even set near West of Mars. You’d think that would awaken some feelings.

Not like Hairstyles did. Even though I’m a bit older than these characters, I still smiled at the haircut Brian quested after. I recognized the mosh pits of old. The lazy, languid afternoons, hanging out on the hood of a car. This was my life, to a degree. Not so much that I saw myself exactly, but enough that I was right there all over again. Those college years had been good to me. They were again as I read.

One thing Hairstyles had that Peter Paddington lacked that truly needs to be mentioned is the way in which we got to watch Brian change. He made progress in life. He lost some of his awkwardness, especially with the girls. Meno wasn’t afraid to let this character grow and change and be someone else at the end of the book. As a result, at times, you can’t help but root for Brian when things are going well. You can’t help but groan when he’s a lunkhead. But you don’t give up on him; Brian’s a survivor. You can tell that early on.

I wish I’d read this before Peter Paddington. I’d have done nothing but rave about it. But like my experience with Cecil Castellucci’s Beige, this one suffers from the shame of coming in second.

Pick it up. Tell me what you think.