Reading - May 2015

Guitarist (June 2015 / Issue 394)
The Week (2 May 2015 / Issue 1020)
Confessions Of A Record Producer by Moses Avalon (1998)
As a student of the pop music industry, I have read quite widely around the subject - not just pop bios but also the business side of things. Nevertheless this managed to surprise me in a number of respects - mostly the one-sidedness of contracts even forty years on from the most notably exploitative ones. Interesting, revealing and essential reading for anyone assuming that whoever you see on your television is automatically rich, let alone anyone thinking they might enter the business. The fact that this edition is quite old (nearly 20 years!), and as a result notably wrong about the impending digital revolution, doesn't lessen its impact.
The Week (9 May 2015 / Issue 1021)
The Week (16 May 2015 / Issue 1022)
Twentieth anniversary issue! A fact denoted by a small flag on the front cover, a brief mention on the editorial and nothing else (the thousandth issue was even less celebrated).
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan (2006)
The Week (23 May 2015 / Issue 1023)
Slash by Slash with Anthony Bozza (2007)
I couldn't name more than about two Guns 'n' Roses songs and fewer of any post GNR bands Slash has been in, but I was intrigued enough by his story to keep going through what is a fairly lengthy book. There is no way this guy should be alive! Although he says it's the music that has kept him together, there's not really much about how he arrives at it - maybe he or the publishers think that the general public won't be interested. Still, it's made me keen to go and listen to his albums ... I just have to see how long I can bear Axl Rose's voice (who btw comes across as a prize tit in this book).
The Week (30 May 2015 / Issue 1024)


Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

I didn't know exactly what age this book is aimed at, but it's published in the UK by Electric Monkey, an Egmont imprint that specialises in teen/YA (presumably "young adult") fiction. Since Norah is eighteen in the book, and Nick a touch older, I would guess that the intended readership is therefore roughly fifteen-plus. Is the "plus" bit of that supposed to extend all the way to 46? No matter - I'm a sucker for a nice bit of romantic fiction and I enjoyed the film so I thought, let's try the original book, even if it is for kids.

Well. Um. Teen fiction sure has changed since I was that age. I can't remember exactly what I was reading when I was fifteen, but I'm pretty sure that none of the characters swore (at all), had abusive ex-boyfriends or (almost) gave blow-jobs in public places. In fact, the whole thing is much more like one of the racier Harlequin novels (maybe something from the Desire series) than what I had expected - although for Harlequin they would have to reduce the teen angst.

Oh - and seriously tone down the language. This book has probably the single highest FpP ("fuck" per page) count of any I have read recently - and when you consider that I am also currently reading Slash's autobiography, that's really saying something. I know that's how kids talk, and it doesn't offend me, but generally you don't write dialogue exactly how people talk because it doesn't come across right ("Like, um, so, he said, I dunno, something, right, and I was so, like, um ...") - unless you're going for a specific effect. Here, it just speaks of an insufficient vocabulary. Maybe that's right for the characters when speaking (although they are both supposed to be intelligent) but for their internal dialogue, it just seems lazy.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy it. It successfully captures a very teen experience; the heady, hormonal rush of meeting someone amazing and becoming so involved with them in just a few hours that you feel you know them inside out. I like the "he said/she said" format of alternate chapters from each character's viewpoint, although the motivations are still a little hazy sometimes. But it's a good read, the right length and the right ending.

Would I let my teenage children read it? Well, I actually did already know that teen fiction is a lot different from what I read. My 13 year-old has read the Hunger Games trilogy and although I haven't, I believe it's fairly grim. He wouldn't be interested in this because it's not action/thriller stuff. But my daughter? Well, it contains references to things I would like to think she doesn't need to know about until she's at least fifteen ... but maybe I'm kidding myself. I don't know.