The new David Mitchell novel (Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks, Black Swan Green) that came out this summer. The novels begins in the mid 1960s in London as Dean Moss, a talented by hapless bass guitarist, has been kicked out of his apartment and out of his band. As he looks for a place to live, some money, and a gig, he meets Levon, a Canadian music manager, who convinces him to come to a show to see a guitarist.
As the evening unfolds it becomes clear that Levon is putting together a band made up of Dean, the guitarist Jasper, the drummer of Jasper’s band Griff, and soon, a piano ingenue and chanteuse, Elf.
The novel proceeds as they go through their early days together, when things often work out well (we’re blessed to find out that they’re actually talented), and run through the ins and outs of the mid to late 1960s rock scene.
The novel spans just a few years and takes us through two of their albums. The narration is a conscientious but slightly detached third person voice. The narrative drive is not always clear in the novel, and elements of the plot are scattered and episodic with time slipping forward at inconsistent moments.
There’s a little more to it than this, but I don’t want to discuss where the novel takes us. At times, the writing can be more clever than real, but it’s very clever. The same goes with the plotting and story too. The novel is not as heartfelt as other similar novels might be, but it tells an effective. It sometimes plays a little too cute with running into celebrities, but they feel real, and so does the music. We’re told at one point that they sound like a 1968 Pink Floyd with Eric Clapton on guitar (which is funny since Dave Gilmour is such a talented guitarist). But I think of this band more like:
The audiobook version is read by Ralph Lister, and he’s kind of perfect because he sounds like a gravelly Roger Daltry.