One Man's Band

One Man's Band
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Next Big Thing:
256 pages
August 18, 2013
ISBN 10:
ISBN 13:

Combines the gritty backstage vibe of Roddy Doyle's "The Commitments" with the emotional thawing heart of Jay McInerey's "Bright Lights Big City."

The question -- will the band Shadowland achieve success and become 'the next big thing' -- hovers throughout the novel, raising issues about success and its price. The story's protagonist is both humorous and tragic -- complete with the requisite blind spot that prevents him from seeing how his actions threaten to destroy the thing he most wants -- as he charges forward in pursuit of his dream. While the author gives snapshots of the songwriting process, I wish he had given the same attention to setting and painted the Boston area with a more vivid brush.

The 'rewind/fast forward' structure, which moves the story back and forth from 1980 to 1985/86, provides an effective framework for this chronicle of the clash between hopes, ego and friendship. Musicians, songwriters and fans of the 1980's Boston club scene will especially be interested in reading. As a bonus, a companion soundtrack featuring the songs mentioned in the book is available.