The untrue story of the greatest post-punk band in rural Scotland circa 1984.
In this stunning debut novel, longtime music journalist Keenan (England’s Hidden Reverse, 2017) uses hallucinatory imagery and a hint of magic to memorialize the intense, self-defining experience of going through adolescence, that shattering moment between childhood and adulthood. The core of the novel is the band Memorial Device, a bunch of hard-partying, hard-playing degenerates trying to live up to the examples set by idols like Iggy Pop and Johnny Thunders; readers may see shades of Trainspotting's punk-rock ethos. The book is constructed as an oral history assembled by two superfans who interview band members, lovers, hangers-on and other wasted youth who fall into the band’s orbit. The approach allows Keenan to capture lots of very different voices in interviews and monologues that run the gamut from poetic to hilarious to profoundly profane. “The thing about the music scene was it fostered belief,” explains the doomed lead singer’s girlfriend. “It encouraged you to take the music and the lifestyle at its word. So there were all these people, living it, probably living it harder than their role models. After all, it isn’t easy being Iggy Pop in a small town in the west of Scotland. It takes some kind of commitment.” In the end, it’s the story of all the indie bands that pass on into legend: “The thing about Memorial Device was that you always had the feeling that it was their last gig ever, like they could fall apart at any moment.”
A noble addition to the pantheon of rock novels about those who play from their hearts.