Synopses & Reviews
The rise and fall of a true American icon: A rock star, inspired by genre-busting musicians of the sixties like Sly Stone, Curtis Mayfield, and Marvin Gaye.
A swirling sixties saga of the rise and fall of a true American icon: A rock star. But not just any rock star: Rock Foxx is an outrageous showman whose unprecedented mixed-race, mixed-gender band made a new kind of socially conscious music that was infectious and tribal and scaled the heights of sixties rock stardom, all the way to Woodstock and beyond. But Foxx seemed to disappear at the height of his fame, his contagious, upbeat music darkening, then ending ubruptly amidst rumors of drugs and violence, as the culture itself exploded into massive riots and assassinations.
In the hands of New Yorker editor Ben Greenman, it's a story that is both highly literary and simply entertaining, a tale about rock and roll and about a complicated but key moment in our history. Exciting, funny, disturbing and uplifting, with some of the most deft and absorbing writing about music ever to appear in American fiction, this pseudo-bio of a fascinating character is an amazing creation in itself, and sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year.
"New Yorker editor, music critic and novelist Greenman spins a fresh and explosive new novel about a fictionalized rock 'n' soul star who embraced and revolutionized American counterculture. Robert Franklin, aka 'Rock Foxx,' quickly climbs the ladder from first single to first Billboard hit to the rhinestone stardom of a Rolling Stone cover. In the time of the Beatles, the Stones and Bob Dylan, Foxx injects his unique sound with hints of Otis Redding, Ray Charles and Curtis Mayfield. He sings to make an impression, singing about freedom that was constricting and how, even if you had everything, the mind (and the critics) were never satisfied. His fall from grace and the spotlight is as much about character as it is about the unrealized hopes and dreams of the turbulent '60s. McSweeney's regular Greenman (A Circle Is a Balloon and Compass Both) takes readers behind the rhythm and into the soul of a musician and the culture that made and destroyed him. It's a haunting vision of a man, the music and a culture, driven by the author's undeniable passion for his subject." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Ben Greenman seems incapable of writing anything dry or familiar or expected. He is one of the most versatile, constantly surprising writers at work today." Dave Eggers
"This book sounds like a song, working with the rhythm of words that are like speech but never just talking. Greenman's dialogue is as turse, piercing and easeful as Sly Stone's lyrics." The New Yorker
"There's wit and soul here, and most of it is Foxx's, but we're seeing it through a pair of his dark, ever-present sunglasses. Foxx has a quick, sharp tongue, but Greenman wisely avoids making him a jive-talking caricature. Please Step Back
centers on America's civil rights movement, and Foxx's lyrics reflect the social upheaval taking place, but music makes up the book's core." Brandon Von, Identity Theory
(read the entire Identity Theory review
About the Author
Ben Greenman is an editor at The New Yorker and the author of several books of fiction, including Superbad and A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Both. His fiction, criticism, and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times, the Washington Post, McSweeneys, the Paris Review, Opium, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn.