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FPP#16: Band Practice

From a novel to be published (with exquisite cover art, for what that's worth) by Harper Perennial in June:

When you grow up you can be anything, they said, but that's a lie too. So I go to band practice and plug in the Twin Reverb, the Stratocaster, and the noise is a beautiful plane crashing into my face. So I make a gun with my finger and thumb and aim heavenward. So I dream of a landscape, this one, darkened by the slow rolling shadows of cloud-sized tits.

Got your attention, at least. Hey, I don't really know what to make of the cloud-sized tits either, but as idylls dreamed up by electric guitar players I won't deny a certain vocational harmony. Surely the boobs-in-sky motif was established long ago in the annals of misogynist album covers?* Once upon a time, you'll remember, rock and roll was genuinely offensive. Why hold the modern rock novelist to higher standards?

"What's wrong with being sexy?" Nigel Tufnel famously asked.

Except, shouldn't they be tit-shaped clouds? If said formation is rolling over a landscape, they are clouds, right, not just cloud-sized? Granted, the narrator is daydreaming, so perhaps poetic license is due, but when I try to imagine breasts large enough to shade whole neighborhoods what comes to mind is a Terry Gilliam animation from some old Monty Python film. Can it be long before the giant tits attack?

Anyway, back to the paragraph: not to the perhaps grating repetition of so to begin three consecutive sentences, but rather to "the noise is a beautiful plane crashing into my face." Arguably, this line does exactly what much good poetry sets out to — it knocks the reader off-balance (and therein trains the reader's attention) by turning a familiar image or metaphor into something utterly unexpected. Though in this case, maybe it's unexpected but just strange. Such is the subjective nature of poetry. You'd want to read the rest of the poem, at least another stanza or two, before deciding. And so it goes when we don't know whether we can trust the novelist. Whaddayathink?

[Turn back to last time's First Paragraph Preview, or skip straight to its author and title.]

* A $20 Powell's Card to the first person who can point me to an actual album cover featuring disembodied breasts hovering like dirigibles in the sky. Such artwork must exist, but I can't recall an album off-hand.

Update: Find the author and title.

÷ ÷ ÷

Dave interviews authors for Powell's. He created our Out of the Book film series. He likes cats and dogs.

Books mentioned in this post

Dave is the author of Out of the Book, Volume 3: State by State

6 Responses to "FPP#16: Band Practice"

    triumphthewondercat May 17th, 2006 at 5:56 am

    My 2 cents: any opening that brings to mind Spinal Tap and Monty Python is worth reading on.

    Stan T. May 17th, 2006 at 6:53 am

    This probably isn't the kind of book I'd read for gorgeous language or a great literary feel. I say that because it's being told by the guitar player. If these are the thoughts in his head... ON the other hand, it might be really funny or insightful or just, as you say, strange. I can't think of a lot of novels about rock music that I've loved, unless you count High Fidelity. Any suggestions out there?

    Brockman May 17th, 2006 at 9:53 am

    Hey, Stan T. -- have you tried The Wishbones by Tom Perrotta? It's not nearly the equal of his masterpiece, Little Children, but it's still a fun read in the Hornby vein.

    And maybe Never Mind the Pollacks? I haven't read it, but Neal Pollack is usually very funny -- and it is, after all, a novel about rock music.

    Stan T. May 17th, 2006 at 11:17 pm

    Brockman - Haven't read the Wishbones, but now I'm remembering that title come up at least once or twice in conversation with reliable friends. Judging by the descriptions on product pages, that sounds more up my alley than Pollack. Thanks for the tip, and keep up the good news.

    Hoyt Pollard May 18th, 2006 at 7:46 am

    The cover of Blind Faith's only album has boobs, clouds, and a plane. Does that count?

    Dave (Post Author) May 18th, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    You're in the early lead, how about that. All the right elements, but not the placement I'm looking for -- disembodied breasts really being the sought-after quality. But a hell of an album. Good call.

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