Bingo Square: Pajiba
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was one of my favorite reads this year (review forthcoming, eventually, hopefully), so I was excited to realize Reid had a new novel out. When I started actually going through the Bingo board and looking through the Pajiba archive, I was even more excited to realize that I could read it for that square – I was actually trying to find Dustin’s article on Baby Teeth because I thought I might finally use this as the push to finish that novel, though I wasn’t looking forward to reading more of that dark story. I wanted an entertaining psycho child, not depressing.
The novel is written as an oral history with interviews from the band members of The Six, their manager, families, reporters and critics, and Daisy Jones and her best friend Simone. It chronicles the parallel rise of the career of Daisy Jones, sexy, independent rock goddess, and the band, The Six, under the guidance of charismatic lead singer, Billy Dunne. While they are both good on their own, when they end up under the same label, Teddy, their producer, realizes the potential if the singer and the band would combine. It starts with Daisy on a duet on one song on the Six’s sophomore album, and being their opening act on the associated tour, until they agree to do an album together.
The novel gives the different perspectives, showing how sometimes people could interpret and remember the same event in completely different ways. Even though the interviews are written as if they are private conversations, the novel arranges them so that the changes in interpretation are immediately seen. While Billy and Daisy are the main focus, the story also reveals so many other secrets and events that were going on. However, Billy and Daisy both struggle with similar demons, though Daisy is still in the midst of her drug addiction, while Billy has embraced a life of family and sobriety. This means that their relationship is especially volatile as Billy sees Daisy as his dark side, but it is this volatility, their ability to truly see each other and the temptation each presents that fuels the greatness of their musical and creative collaboration.
The story tracks the band through the ’70s, and while in many ways, the various band members experience the traditional excesses associated with rock bands of that time period, Reid also doesn’t go too far into the traditional melodrama, finding a balance between presenting the drug use of the ’70s with the human side behind it all so it doesn’t feel like another tired trope or VH1 Behind the Music story.
I think given the choice between this one and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, I would give the edge to the other novel if I had to choose just one to recommend, but it was also a more traditional structure with one main character and voice compared to a realistic and gripping oral history of a band, which I assume would make a more challenging novel to write. But really, read both!
Bingo Square: Pajiba