Crane’s debut memoir recounts three whirlwind years braving the contest circuit of a ritual most people only perform behind locked doors.
He began competing in air-guitar competitions in the fall of 2003, just hours after learning about its existence as a sport. (That sort of ironic twist is a typical turn of events for true air guitar heroes, we learn.) Crane’s alter ego during “air-time” is Björn Türoque, a self-proclaimed nihilist who embodies not only the over-the-top technique and pageantry of the world’s premier air guitarists, but who quickly became an ambassador of this newly minted fake rock-’n’-roll lifestyle by appearing on CNN and “Last Call with Carson Daly.” Björn/Dan drags his readers on the road with him from New York to Los Angeles, constructing a riveting narrative through wry observations parceled out in a light, conversational tone. Despite imbibing heavily before, during and after competition rounds, he seems to recall every detail of conversations in the basements of seedy clubs, the minutiae of each flamboyant costume design, all the salient personality traits of the colorful, engaging characters who comprise his competition (and their rabid groupies). What makes this memoir more enduring than Björn’s notoriety for finishing as runner-up in competition—a failure that he proudly claims carries even more rock cachet than winning—are the moments in which he pauses to reflect on the pastime as a cultural event. His text is a social critique whose subjects include the air guitarist as a figure of pure passion, musical “talent” as a relative term, the real fame attained by fake artists. The author’s analyses are offered ironically, but always have the ring of truth.
An absurd yet contemplative chronicle that will charm anyone who believes in rocking hard with a guitar—or with nothing at all.