I thought that this book was going to be steeped in ’80’s music and culture which is totally in my wheelhouse. Some of the reviews that I had read indicated this. They were not accurate. I hate to use words like “okay” and “nice” but that sort of sums this one up. It really wasn’t what I was expecting, which is okay, but it circles around some pretty heavy themes in a way that is a bit too nice.
CDs are trumping vinyl in the late 80’s and music shop owner, Frank, is a vinyl purist. Raised by a mother that is ill-equipped to parent, Frank eats up the only healthy lesson that she seems to impart: a love of music. After stumbling around in the wake of her death, Frank buys a crumbling building and sets up a music shop. Having a psyche steeped in the emotional back story of music and musicians, Frank has developed a sort of sixth sense. He listens to his customers and neighbors and prescribes just the right albums to help them to “fix” their problems.
In the midst of a real estate developer buying up the buildings around them, Frank is the glue that holds together the band of misfit shop owners on his down trodden block: a rough tough cream puff tattoo parlor owner, a pair of creepy funeral director brothers, and a recovering alcoholic former priest who owns a religious store. The Music Shop is sort of the “Cheers” here, with Frank serving as the “bartender”. This little tribe is upended when a strange woman in a green coat faints in front of the music shop. The “who is she” and “where did she come from” offers each character something to distract them from the changing neighborhood and the inevitable end of an era.
It’s not a terrible read, but part of it dragged a bit and I think that I just lost interest along the way. The characters are well drawn and interesting in their own quirky ways, but I just couldn’t really get behind them enough to care. There are a lot of psychological issues going on here and Frank has some seriously deep-rooted trauma that mostly gets glossed over. At the heart of it, I think the story is pretty dark, but the quirkiness of the characters adds too much lightness so it skims the surface until the end where Joyce rushes through to the conclusion. It felt like it was starting to drill down to what the story was about and then it was all wrapped up with a bow and ended.