Jeff Jackson, author of Destroy All Monsters, about literature that conveys the unbridled power of rock music
Have you ever thought that you are being deceived? So literary critic Johnny Rotten has signed his monthly column, The Great Rock and Roll Novel, for the London Review of Books. Fans usually agreed with him: so many outstanding memoirs, biographies, historical monographs and collections of essays on rock have been written, so why are there so few worthy works of art? It would seem that this is an ideal topic to study, but it may be just as difficult to breathe really new life into these three familiar chords, as well as into the stone itself. “Destroy all monsters” is my attempt, inspired by Mr. Rotten’s burning pen, to write the latest rock novel. But, fantasizing about the spectacular death of the genre, I knew that I owed much to those novels that managed to capture fleetingness, mystery, Perception changes the charm and unbridled power of the best that exists in the rock. These works – with scenes unfolding on different stages, and heroes emerging from different subcultures – are united by a desire to go beyond the ordinary. In their prose, they embody the spirit of music, which does not stop the movement, and reveal the secret of strange desires that nourish it. I present to you seven books that deserve to compete for the title of “The Great Rock and Roll Novel.” “Stone Arabia” by Dana Spiott Hypnotic novel about madness, self-creation, fanaticism and narcissism – in other words, this is pure rock and roll. Readers plunge into the secret world of musician Nick Worth, who has recorded countless albums, but has not released any of them. The fictional life of the hero in which he is a star is captured in detailed press releases, reviews, articles and fan letters. “Stone Arabia”, narrated on behalf of Sister Nick, raises the question of what music means if it has no listeners, and also discusses conflicting motives and the origin of real art. “Master of Reality” by John Darnell. This fascinating novel destroys the usual standards of the 33 1/3 series, each of which is dedicated to a separate album. The book is written from the point of view of a teenager who, while in a psychiatric hospital, asks his attending physician to return his favorite Black Sabbath Master of Reality cassette to him. This is a vivid example of how a group can become a life for someone, and a passionate argument in favor of gloomy musical emotions. John Darniel has more successful works, but this amazing book remains my favorite. Alan Warner’s “Morvern Callar” “Morvern Callar” is not an ordinary rock romance, but Morvern is not an ordinary heroine. She tells the story of theft, individuality, and authenticity, and the book begins with the fact that her boyfriend Morvern commits suicide and leaves an unpublished novel. Her story is intertwined with music: mixtapes, playlists and the dizzying energy of rave culture. This book is about the hedonism of music and the temptation to completely dissolve in it. The film adaptation of the director Lynn Ramsey’s novel turned out to be no less brilliant and resembles a creative colleague telling a different version of Morvern’s story in the same easily recognizable eccentric manner. “Hopper Girl” by Jamie Hernandez It has been proven more than once that the comics perfectly convey the texture of the stone, and among them there are many impressive works, such as “Band for Life” by Ani Davidson, which describes in detail the amazing absurdities of musical cooperation. But my choice fell on this comic from the Love and Rockets series, dedicated to the life of two young Latin Americans Maggie and Hopey, who travel the California punk scene, follow tour groups that travel between novels and communities. Stories such as The Death of Speedy Ortiz show Hernandez’s talent for carefully portraying characters and creating an amazing mix of drama and sympathy. The Performance at the Pharmacy Park, created by Constance Squeers in Oklahoma, tells the story of the alienated 70s rock star Lena Wells and the documentary that is supposed to make a film about her return to the scene. The book raises questions of fame and memory, ruined families and the search for goals in the midst of tragedy. Thanks to the songs and poems woven into the text, the “Performance from the Medical Park” sounds like a dramatic classic rock ballad about a broken heart. “This is a memory device” by David Keenan. The subtitle of the novel describes him perfectly: “The hallucinogenic story of the post-punk music scene in Airdrie, Cottridge and its environs in 1978-1986.” Keenan has been writing about music for a long time and knows how powerful the local scenes and legends surrounding them are. The book is a touching story about the fate of the fictional group Memorial Device and their environment, and touches on unexpected turns of human lives. Moreover, this is an anatomical view of Scotland in the 1980s, a destructive collective vision that is hard to forget about.