A young rock star marinates himself in psychotropic drugs, ruminates on life on the road and pines away for his girl.
If this debut novel by former Fall Out Boy bassist and tabloid-fodder Wentz (The Boy with the Thorn in his Side, 2004), with MTV News’ James Montgomery, is as autobiographical as it’s made out to be, this young man has some issues to work out. Fortunately, the fictionalized rock star who narrates this dreamy version of horrible events has a distinctive voice, even if he’s going nowhere fast. The unnamed guitarist is the shooting star of a fast-rising rock band, surrounded by groupies, managers and guys with names like “the Disaster.” Drugged out and emotionally vacant, he spends his lonely hours in indistinguishable hotel rooms longing for the equally unnamed Her. “I owe it all to Her. Her. She made me, she put me here. We fought about that. We fought about a lot of things, but I still miss Her. She is Chicago to me, the humid summers and the Lake-Effect winters. When I’m homesick, it’s for Her.” And that’s pretty much it for the next 200-plus pages of stream-of-consciousness unraveling, punctuated by bar fights, suicide attempts, stints in rehab and uncomfortable confessions: “I’m nothing more than a frightened child, a scared little boy with tough-guy tattoos and a hollow snarl, and that no matter how much I like to think of myself as a die-hard romantic, I’d never have the guts to actually die for love.” Even though nothing really happens, the prose is quite sharp, and the despair of the main character is evocatively portrayed. It all makes for an interesting inside look at the circus, especially for those who think that knowing a little magazine gossip means you know someone.
Accomplished, though the mean-spirited denouement may put off some readers, and the lead’s lack of transformation gives it a dark undercurrent.