Scowl: The Bonaparte Interviews by Mark Lages
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really didn't know what to expect when I started reading this, but apart from me starting out slightly bemused and enjoying a trip down history's lane, I was simply tempted to start supplying my own knowledge of David Bowie and the Beatles and Elvis and the Beach Boys and maybe a little Pink Floyd and ride the nostalgic music wave.
This is written as a series of interviews revolving a fictitious musician breaking the scene in 1957 and giving us fantastic glimpses of his life until 2001, but apart from that, it's not just about the music. It's about Art. It's about Life. And not to make too fine a point about it, it's about doing the best you can and doing the best you can with it.
It's about making mistakes, owning up to them, being honest, and being good. The Fame is a side issue.
Here's the skinny: I'm kinda surprised how much this book hit me. He kinda started out like an Elvis clone and the character didn't really appeal to me all that much, but the writing was clear and quick and I had no issues. I then started getting the whole Forrest Gump vibe as history started happening and Scowl came alive. Making stupid decisions that nevertheless didn't hurt him any, career-wise.
By the time I was half-way through the novel, I discovered something pretty cool:
The novel is optimistic.
Hopeful. Courageous. Decent. Even wholesome.
Scowl did some really crappy things but this is, at its heart, a lot of different things. A redemption novel, sure, but it's an art lover's novel, a family novel, and a novel about basic human decency.
How often do any of us read things like this? I mean, really? Doesn't all the sick stuff sell? But if I'm going to be perfectly honest, I really like the direction this novel took. It's like a Norman Rockwell painting that recognizes all the ugliness out there and then DECIDES to sit the crap out to then do its own thing.
Am I surprised that I actually teared up a little?
Yeah, I guess I am. I'm used to some really crazy shit. This shouldn't GET to me. But it did. :)
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