Sleeping with the NME
Mary Wright reads a first novel that's in love with rock journalism; The Lonely Planet Boy by Barney Hoskyns Serpent's Tail, pounds 8.99
Saturday 19 August 1995
Like most 13-year-old boys in 1973, Kip Wilson finds his musical allegiances changing with bewildering rapidity, depending on the tastes of more sophisticated mates. He discards glam and progressive rock with few regrets, then settles complacently on "classic rock". Within eight pages he is mown down by MC5, Iggy Pop, the New York Dolls (from whose first album the book's title is taken) and the Ramones. "I have seen the future of rock and roll," he says. "Not sure if I like it."
Oh, but he does. Instead of doing what half the young male population aspires to do (form a band), he comes to London to do what the other half dreams of doing (be a music journalist). He hangs around the grubby offices of the music weekly, Cover, gratefully picking up any scraps of review work that are tossed to him and other would-be Paul Morleys. His break comes in the form of a Teutonic siren called Mina, a cross between Nico and the ex-Christian Death singer Gitane Demone. His championing of her pays off when he is asked to accompany the band on their American tour, where be promptly gets in over his head.
The Lonely Planet Boy is misleadingly subtitled "a pop romance". The pop is overwhelmingly present. Hoskyns drops the names of every cult band from the last 20 years and turns the book into a monotonous litany of muso-cultural references, leaving only a rather lame story. And romance? Not much of that either, as the forms of love depicted are either dismal, university-type sex or humiliating scenes of dildo- buggery to appal Kip's middle-class soul. Unlike The Buddha of Suburbia, in which music is the soundtrack to a cracking good story, The Lonely Planet Boy's story is the music, and not a very good one at that. The narrative is not allowed to develop. Promising subplots are strangled at birth. Hoskyn's strength lies in depicting the world of early-Eighties music journalism, as befits a former writer on NME. Indeed, his normally sparse and perfunctory prose style disappears when he recreates Kip's articles for Cover. But pastiche Mojo-crit, sadly, does not a novel make.
Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
Mr Selfridge series 3: Actress Kara Tointon says 'we're starting to see his demise'
Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
V&A removes depiction of Prophet Mohamed from website amid 'severe security alert'
Game of Thrones season 5: IMAX releases new trailer with first look footage of Tyrion Lannister
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally