Two aspiring rock musicians think that the way to success is for one of them to fake his own death, then capitalize on the phony tragedy.
In his mid-20s, Joel Wilson works as a bellhop at a Sydney hotel, where he hooks up with slightly older Wade Farley, a lobby pianist, to form a rock band. But to Joel, this is only a means to an end, as he really sees himself as a filmmaker. Unable to get a recording contract, Joel and Wade hatch a scheme: They’ll go to New York, where they’ll fake Joel’s death and turn that tragedy into a launch pad for their music. Once the deed is done, Joel travels to Montreal, where he takes on an assumed name. Time passes, and Joel hears nothing from Wade. Then, one day, he turns on the radio and hears one of his songs being played as part of a tribute album put together in his memory. It looks like the scheme worked, and Wade has been living it up in New York while Joel has been on the down low in Montreal. The ensuing complications, however, humorously expose the dark underbelly of fame in the music business. The premise isn’t entirely original, and the machinations of how Joel and Wade pull off their scam are a little on the sketchy side, but Joel’s misadventures in three different cities are hilariously rendered. He and Wade fit into the pantheon of great losers, the author having a Charles Portis–like gift for writing about dim bulbs without condescending to them. The book’s filled with laugh-out-loud lines and dialogue, more than compensating for any flaws in terms of story logic or narrative cohesion, making for a memorable trip through the demimonde of wannabe rock stars.
Unrefined but infectious, like a barely legal high.