Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fallen Rock Stars in Contemporary Fiction

The New York Times takes a look at how rock and roll music is currently being translated to the pages of novels.

From the article...

Invariably, however, I would run into friends from the rock universe who would inquire, as pasty-skinned record collectors will do, about the bands I was currently digging. Over time, I learned to mumble something about Wild Flag or Tune-Yards just to move the conversation along. But in truth, there were four recently discovered artists I could not shake from my brain yet whose names I was reluctant to share: the cultish singer-songwriter Tucker Crowe; the newly unearthed punk weirdo Scotty Hausmann; the outsider artist Nik Worth; and Richard Katz, a nihilistic rogue. 

All were vivid, unique singers, ambivalent toward fame yet too gifted to avoid flirting with it. All had taken their share of lumps from the roller-coaster ride that comes with a rich, torturous music career. And of course, all four men — my favorite new rock singers — did not actually exist. They were characters gracing the centers or fringes of recent novels by Nick Hornby (“Juliet, Naked”), Jennifer Egan (“A Visit From the Goon Squad”), Dana Spiotta (“Stone Arabia”) and Jonathan Franzen (“Freedom”). 

I didn’t have any kind of rock ’n’ roll agenda when I went into these books. Really. In fact, I inherited the Hornby from my wife, purchased “Stone Arabia” out of admiration for Spiotta’s previous novel and was lent both “Goon Squad” and “Freedom” by my mother, who had showered each with what, for her, amounts to high praise: “Eh — could’ve been better.” 

Nevertheless, falling for these characters in such accidental succession made me wonder whether rock music, long rumored to be deceased, was functioning better on the page than in the recording.

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