Monday, September 14, 2009

That Summertime Sound - Commentary and Giveaway!

Long time readers will know that I have three loves: buffalo wings, indie rock, and reading. Not only does this combination make me an incredibly sought after bachelor on the Cleveland market, it also turns the task of making me happy into a pretty predictable one. That is, give me a plate (or, um, bucket) of buffalo wings and a novel about indie rock and you'll get two things: greasy, stained pages and a smiling CB.

Matthew Specktor's new novel, That Summertime Sound, is the latest indie rock related book to cross my desk and for those of you who love the same sorts of things in life that I do, you have reason to be excited. Not only that, Specktor roots his hip band name-dropping dialogue within a plot that features heavily the Ohio rock scene (particularly in Columbus) of the 1980s.

If you were around then, or dig anything that shamelessly offers hat-tips to bands lke The Feelies, Husker Du, Pere Ubu, and Uriah Heep, this book is for you. That Summertime Sound is a coming-of-age story of a young man from Los Angeles, educated at an elite east coast prep school, and more pumped up about spending a summer in the rust belt than anyone ever probably ought to be. Specktor writes nineteen-year-old pseudo-intellectual hipsters well (very, very well), for good and ill, and for every hackneyed reference Balzac ("Felice stood up to use the bathroom and I saw as I hadn't earlier the battered paperback copy of Lost Illusions shoved in her back pocket."), there are realistic arguments over this seminal band or that one, tales of tales to the thrift store, and the ever-present gnawing tension between being who you are and who you want others to think you are. All with a relatively fantastic literary soundtrack.

I'm not the only one saying good things about this book, either. Specktor's debut novel has already garnered comparisons to writers as different and lauded as Jim Thompson and Kazuo Ishiguro, and one of this blog's favorite authors, Jonathan Lethem, bestowed upon the book the following choice jacket love:

Matthew Specktor's That Summertime Sound isn't so much a book as it is a door, hinged in memory, and swinging wide to every tenderhearted throb of lust and longing and precocious regret still there where you left it, at the periphery of adulthood. How does the novel perform on this trick? By prose as lucid and classical as Graham Greene's in The End of the Affair, yet saturated in detail such that if you'd never had the luck to outgrow an '80s teenage dream in Columbus, Ohio, you'll feel you had after reading it."

Got you interested yet? Good, because you can get a copy of That Summertime Sound pretty easily, whether by ordering it from your favorite local bookstore (as always, I endorse Mac's Backs on the east side and Visible Voice on the west) or through amazon at this link here.

To further sweeten the pot, I have an extra copy of That Summertime Sound to give away to one lucky blog reader. Rather than do something like first come, first served, I figured I'd make this giveaway into something a little more fun (for me) and beneficial (again, for me). So, anyone interested in getting a complimentary copy of this book should either comment on this post or email me at clevelandbachelor AT with the following: their name and their own favorite book (preferably fiction) that deals with music. Tell me why you like that one (or why you think I might like it). The prize goes to the best recommendation I receive.


Russ said...

If you read Irvine Welsh' Trainspotting, it's got a lot of music references -- music is a pretty big part of a drop out heroin addict's life, I guess. The movie is about the best adaptation I can imagine and I really like it, however the book on it's own is a complete winner and far better. Sounds like it might cover a slightly earlier timeframe (70s & early 80s) than Summertime Sound, but I think it's a continuum of taste.

When I first tried to read it I had to put it down because I wasn't getting a good handle on reading in Scottish dialect. Then I picked up On The Road, which forces you to to read in the rhythm Kerouac dictates, hearing the words in your head. Did the same with Trainspotting when I was done and loved it.

Russ said...

Lots of bad its/it's in there. Yikes. See, I need to read more.

Adam Harvey said...

I'd have to say my favorite music-related book is Studs Terkel's Giants of Jazz. It's a primary source oral history about folks like Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Charlie Parker.

The great thing about this book is how it puts into context the lives of the performers and how they interacted with each other (like a big ole family) over the course of half a century or more. The writing style is unassuming and uncomplicated, which really lets you focus on the folks being written about (often in their own words).