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A roadie's fictional diary of a low-key, cross-country concert tour.

With nothing better to do, Lou offers to be the road manager of his University of Delaware college friend's trio, the Day Action Band. A naively sincere pop group that already made an independent-label with a CD that got a tiny bit of attention, the band's aim, according to its lead singer, guitarist and songwriter Tim, is merely to be liked enough by its twentysomething audience so that he, bassist Joey, and drummer Cree can make a living wage. Harboring a deeply repressed affection for Cree, Tim's former girlfriend, Lou sets up the group's equipment, sells T-shirts, and shares driving to a series of mostly decent rock clubs, from New York to San Francisco, as the group opens for the Radials, a seasoned British rock band with a single climbing the American radio charts. Readers expecting heartland surrealism, or an inside look at music-industry venalities, won't find them in this breezy debut novel: Lou and company are treated respectfully, fed well, and escape traditional road-trip potholes: a compassionate cop lets them go after he takes their marijuana, an affair between Cree and Radials' lead singer Brant runs its course, and Lou discovers he can drive safely even when hung-over. The story's charm is in Lou's sometimes tedious, sometimes dead-on observations of the tensions and turmoil among the band members, distant friends, former lovers, parents, and relatives encountered along the way—and in his vague uncertainty that this tour, for all its frustrations and minor ups and downs, just might be as good as life is ever going to get.

A sunny, engaging odyssey that celebrates a generation's cautious idealism in a supportive, oddly forgiving American landscape where, despite prodigious indulgences in sex, drugs, and rock' n' roll, hope still springs eternal.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-312-26903-X
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2001