Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel
Thurlow Dan is kind of like a rockstar. He’s the leader of a religious cult called The Helix. Think Scientology but without the aliens and with a mission to cure loneliness. Sad thing is Dan, leader of the loneliness-abating cult is lonely as hell. He misses his ex-wife and daughter, who he hasn’t seen in nine years. Esme, is his ex a cover agent for the US government who has been keeping tabs on Dan and trying to keep him out of hot water. The government is pretty sure Dan’s fomenting a full-on armed revolution from his Helix compound in Cincinnati. The fact that Dan’s recently returned from North Korea is not helping matters. Esme throws together a foursome of not-really-qualified agents to infiltrate the compound, and then things go awry — horribly, hilariously, oddly touchingly awry. How do you like them adverbs? Maazel’s novel is dark twisty satire with a healthy does of heart thrown in for good measure. Come for the wacky hijinks, stay for the sad sweet moments of humanity.
Verdict: BUY. Maazel’s linguistic pyrotechnics will make you want to double back on this one.
Falling Cars and Junkyard Dogs by Jay Farrar
Jay Farrar is a sort of rockstar. He doesn’t seem very rockstarry, but he’s totally got the bona fides for it. Member of Uncle Tupelo, the band that gave birth to Wilco and Son Volt, writer of many beautiful songs, but still. . . rockstar doesn’t seem like a fitting appellation for him. Perhaps Alt-Country God is more fitting, because for real, “Windfall” is a thing of beauty. Sadly, this book of essay-ish type paragraphs is not a thing of beauty. It’s a thing of puzzlement. A thing of did anyone edit this crap? A thing full of ellipses and half thoughts and a few paragraphs about that one time Farrar almost kind of met Willie Nelson as he walked across a parking lot. A few of these vignettes are worthy of your time — especially when Farrar writes about his childhood or passively-agressively bitches about Jeff Tweedy without actually mentioning him by name. Still you have to be the superest of super duper fans not to find this one a big, dull dud.
Verdict: BYPASS. Instead, go listen to “These Roads Don’t Move” from the album he did with Ben Gibbard about Jack Kerouac.
Kicking & Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock & Roll by Ann & Nancy Wilson with Charles R. Cross
Ann & Nancy Wilson are total rockstars. They have the tour bus hijinks, coke-fueled parties, and big 80s hair to prove it. Also, they are total badasses. These women have had a 40+ year career in the male-dominated music industry and somehow they have managed to survive all that bullshit without becoming bitter, jaded harpies. It’s an impressive feat, because there is plenty to be bitter about, whether it be the 80s nonsense where the record label wanted more cleavage, the seventies when the bands they toured with thought the sisters would just put out after shows, or all the bajillion times their looks, specifically Ann’s weight, was discussed more than the music they made. Still they thrived. Listening to this book (I got the audio version read by Ann & Nancy) felt like settling in with a cup of coffee and my totally awesome aunts. I’ve been babbling about this book for the past month and I still haven’t been able to accurately capture it’s awesomeness. All I know is that it totally hits that sweet spot in my life where feminism and the love of rock & roll live, and how can that be anything but amazing?