Rock n’ Roll Novels? Who Cares?

A thought dawned on me today as I was walking up the stairs to my little writers idyll, ‘has there ever been a good rock n’ roll novel?’ It made me think, I can tell you. It was especially poignant as I am currently editing a book with rockstar penis moulds in, I’m planning on writing a series of books next year about a band and when people say write about what you know, the only two things I’ve got are rock n’ roll and accountancy. Eek.

Ignoring the fact that my other novel is about accountancy, I thought I’d look into the illustrious history of rock n’ roll books and see if any of them were any good. So, I’m going to provide you with a list of books that I’ve either read myself, or that come highly recommended, and let you make your own mind up.

The Commitments – Roddy Doyle

A great film and a very good book. This was Roddy Doyle’s debut novel. For anyone that doesn’t know the story it’s about a soul band from Dublin that try to make it through the pubs and clubs of Ireland.

High Fidelity – Nick Hornby

A good book but I didn’t like the film. It’s about a record shop owner who makes lists of things. Not really rock n’ roll but it’s kind of music based.

Powder – Kevin Sampson

I enjoyed reading this book because it’s written by the ex-manager of The Farm. (the 80’s/90’s indie band) The reason The Farm are so special is because my band played in the same studio as half of the Farm members ten years later when they were in another band. You see how tenuous my glittering rock n’ roll credentials actually are? Good book about an indie band though and written by a guy that knows the ropes.

Here’s a bunch of books that I’ve never read but will do soon:

Idoru – William Gibson

A book about a Japanese rock singer named Rez who falls in love with a woman that may, or may not, be created by a computer. I’ve never read this but I’ve heard a number of people through the years cite it as a great rock n’ roll book so who am I to disparage their words.

The Carpet Frogs: Music After Tomorrow Alan Arlt 

This is the story of a young singer dealing with success and loss in the music world. Some have claimed that this is the best rock novel they’ve ever read. ??

How Soon Is Never? Marc Spitz

I’ve heard people talk about this but as I sit in the camp of The Smiths being a great band if only Morrissey wasn’t singing, I’ve always avoided it. It’s about a couple of fans who are desperate to bring The Smiths back together, a ridiculous notion if you ask me.

You Think You Hear – Matt O’Keefe

This is a novel about a band on tour and more specifically a singer falling for the girl drummer. It’s apparently a funny read but as I’ve not read it I cannot comment on such speculative claims.

So, there’s seven books that touch upon the great rock n’ roll world. I don’t think it particularly helps me now that I’ve come up with those seven but at least I know that my books won’t be the first. I think more importantly a good rock n’ roll book has to hold the excitement and spontaneity of being that age, with those dreams. There’s many more books I can think of that have the rock n’ roll spirit without focussing on a band and it’s those stories that grab me.

Have you read any of these books? If so, let me know in the comments, especially if you’ve read any that I haven’t. Thanks.



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