Thursday, September 10, 2009

That Summertime Sound

"I'd always believed a great rock song consolidated an entire lifetime's worth of feeling into seconds or less, just like an orgasm or a sneeze. Unlike those things it went on a while - long enough to attain consciousness within its frame - and it never continued quite as far as you hoped, but that's what a great song did. It held you."

-from That Summertime Sound

As the summer came to a close, I was finishing reading That Summertime Sound, the debut novel from Matthew Specktor. At its heart is a nineteen year old protagonist, on break after his freshman year at college, who heads towards the heartland to immerse himself in his favorite band Lords of Oblivion and the underground music scene of Columbus, Ohio in the mid 80's. Needless to say, along the way he learns a bit about himself and the world around him. While the plot revolves around a fictional band, Specktor drops in constant references to the seminal bands of the period such as The Feelies, Hüsker Du, Pere Ubu, and Uriah Heap, making it easy to forget that this is a fictional world he's exploring.

I don't really know much about the author other than the few short sentences about him on the book jacket and the accompanying picture. Completely guestimating his age, I'm theorizing that he's drawing upon his own personal musical experiences growing up in the 80's, and I'm convinced that for him these bands did in fact hold a lot of currency in his life. I've also never spent any time in the heartland, but I'm sufficiently convinced that his sketch of life there seems equally authentic, even though he grew up in Los Angeles. The intense connections that he draws between these two pillars that the book is built upon, music and location, feel genuinely crafted and for music lovers, will speak volumes.

If you visit the book's official website, you can hear excerpts read by Jeremy Irons, Gwyneth Paltrow, Morgan Freeman, J Mascis, and others, and in the future, possibly musical pieces pulled from the book (while you're waiting, listen to James Brown's I'll Go Crazy below, the first of many musical references in the book). If it sounds interesting to you, even though summer is over, you can order the book from

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