Synopses & Reviews
Three dramatic and emblematic stories intertwine in Zachary Lazar's extraordinary new novel, SWAY--the early days of the Rolling Stones, including the romantic triangle of Brian Jones, Anita Pallenberg, and Keith Richards; the life of avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger; and the community of Charles Manson and his followers. Lazar illuminates an hour in American history when rapture found its roots in idolatrous figures and led to unprovoked and inexplicable violence. Connecting all the stories in this novel is Bobby Beausoleil, a beautiful California boy who appeared in an Anger film and eventually joined the Manson "family." With great artistry, Lazar weaves scenes from these real lives together into a true but heightened reality, making superstars human, giving demons reality, and restoring mythic events to the scale of daily life.
"One hypnotic tone poem.... It is not the now-historic acts of violence that make Sway so riveting, but its vivid character portraits and decadent, muzzy atmosphere, all rendered with the heightened sensory awareness associated with drugs and paranoia. The near miniaturist precision with which he describes Keith Richards's attempts to master his guitar, Brian Jones's acid trips and Anger's obsessive desire for Beausoleil bring this large-scale tableau into stunning relief." --Liz Brown, Time Out New York
"A s Mick Jagger sang in the 1970 song'Sway,' 'It's just that demon life has got me in its sway.' In Lazar's second novel, he uses a number of real 'demon lives' from the '60s the Stones and their entourage; Kenneth Anger, the filmmaker who shot Scorpio Rising; and Bobby Beausoleil, a musician and Manson family associate to channel the era's dread and exhilaration. Lazar shows the decade's descent as the culture of youth (represented most clearly by the Rolling Stones as icons of swinging London) responds to assassinations, the war in Vietnam, the repression in Czechoslovakia and the shedding of navet about drugs. Lazar sketches out his narrative through discrete episodes: Bobby's first criminal job with Manson; Anger's filming of Scorpio Rising; the breakup of Anita Pallenberg and Brian Jones; and a series of Anger's failed film projects. Anger serves as the narrative's lynchpin, and Lazar could have easily cast him as a tawdry caricature, but to his credit, Lazar understands that, in the '60s, the marginal was central, and he brilliantly highlights the fragility of an era when 'everyone under thirty has decided that they're an exception a musician, a runaway, an artist, a star.'" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Zachary Lazar's superb second novel, Sway, reads like your parents' nightmare idea of what would happen to you if you fell under the spell of rock 'n' roll...Elegant and intricate...this brilliant novel is about what's to be found in the shadows, the most terrifying crannies of twisted souls, the darkest gleaming gems."--Charles Taylor, New York Times Book Review
"Lazar has created a powerful, infernal prism through which to view the potent, still-rippling contradictions of the late '60s. It's no mean feat. Despite the era's nearly impossible richness, fresh insights are hard to come by."--Mark Rozzo, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"One hypnotic tone poem.... It is not the now-historic acts of violence that make Sway so riveting, but its vivid character portraits and decadent, muzzy atmosphere, all rendered with the heightened sensory awareness associated with drugs and paranoia. The near miniaturist precision with which he describes Keith Richards's attempts to master his guitar, Brian Jones's acid trips and Anger's obsessive desire for Beausoleil bring this large-scale tableau into stunning relief."--Liz Brown, Time Out New York
About the Author
Zachary Lazar graduated from Brown University, has been a Fellow at The Provincetown Fine Arts Works Center, and received the Iowa Writer's Workshop's James Michener/Copernicus Society Prize. His first novel, "Aaron Approximately," was published in 1998.