COODER CUTLAS by Elizabeth Bales Frank


Email this review


From a gifted young writer, an interesting first novel about the rock-and-roll scene in the early 70's. Mourning his first love, who died in a car crash, Cooder (23) has given up making it as a singer, left the South where a fundamentalist aunt and uncle raised him, and drifted to the Jersey shore. There, at Paradise Beach, he falls in with Jack Armstrong's All-American Band, moves into their archetypically untidy house, loans Jack his guitar, and works on old cars, an interest that grows into a successful business providing vintage models for films. Runaway Macky (17) becomes Cooder's new girl; they spend an idyllic winter repairing a resort in the Poconos. But spring brings the complications of career ambitions; and girl-borrowing while the band is on tour breeds dissension and soul-searching, mostly resolved by book's end. Frank's strengths are an unclichÉd style that re-creates time, place and angst with unusual insight, and a carefully crafted structure that encompasses her several symbols and themes--including the parallel between the evangelist uncle and the evangelistic rock star, the theme of restoration, and the growth from love as an idyll (as reflected in the lyrics of Jack's songs) to love in a more complex world that includes work and responsibility. With the exception of Cooder, who is realized with some depth, her characters lack dimension and are interesting mostly for the way they act out a combination of a typical teen-age fantasy (Jack does make the gold, there are plenty of willing girls, Macky has major jobs in modeling) and a world that really was. Overlong but full of good ideas; a fine first try.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1987
Page count: 311pp
Publisher: Harper & Row