WALK ON GLASS by Lisa Robinson


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The rise and semi-fall of a rock star in the '70s--weak on character and plot, strong on rock-biz details and grimy atmosphere. Fledgling agent Jeff Stein, an asexual climber, discovers singer/songwriter Lindel James in a small downtown N.Y. club; he signs on as her manager, fails to interest his big-agent boss, but manages to get Lindel heard by gay record-company exec Tim--and a deal is soon made, with Jeff wangling his own label. Lindel cuts her first album, goes on her first (seedy) tour. She's turned off by all the PR games. She hates the hotel rooms. But in no time Lindel is a superstar. And, more important, she's passionately in love--with Brian Davis of The Vipers, a British early-punk group: ""He's supposed to be smarter than John Lennon or Peter Townshend, as cunning as Jagger, and with the musical soul of Keith Richards."" A hot affair ensues, Lindel insists (to the horror of all the money people) that the nearly-unknown Vipers be the opening act on her big new tour. But though the tour ""made musical history,"" Lindel's love-on-the-road idyll is doomed: Brian sleeps around, does lots of drugs, is into a whole decadent scene that doesn't interest Lindel. So, when he more or less dumps her, she more or less collapses, with writer's block and other woes: ""No one understood. She just had to be alone with this pain."" And there's more bad news ahead: manager Jeff is a crook and a traitor, releasing a live album behind Lindel's back and stealing her royalties. Finally, then, Lindel will get a new (female) manager, will sidestep the lesbian advances of a record biggie's wife, and will get over Brian: ""Maybe one day there would be someone special with whom she could share her life. But for now, there was her music. It was the most honest thing she knew."" Banal star-soap? Yes indeed. But though Robinson devotes about half of this spotty book to bland rock-romance, the other half consists of wicked one-liners and raw, cynical details: hecklers in Buffalo, monogrammed joints, ""Jew of the Year dinners,"" the grimness of room service in Denver, ""high noon at the Russian Tea Room,"" agent-talk galore. (""Kids can identify with all that ambiguous shit about freedom, wanting to fly. It's perfect."") As rock novel, then: much inferior to Laurence Gonzales' Jambeaux or John Eskow's Smokestack Lightning. As rock reportage, however: decidedly in-the-know and occasionally hilarious.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1982
Publisher: Newmarket--dist. by Scribners