THE NIGHT (ALONE) by Richard Meltzer


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Rock critic Meltzer (The Aesthetics of Rock, not reviewed) debuts with a hopelessly dated gonzo novel, an episodic tale of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll--even though the middle-aged narrator (called everything from ""Rolf Metzgler"" to ""Rex Mizza"") now prefers jazz and spends much time proclaiming his superior taste in music. This hipper-than-thou narrative indulges in all sorts of tired wordplay and other filler: page-long sentences, typographical jokes, crossed-out text, song lyrics, lists, anagrams, and endless free-associative wanderings. At the same time, the voice alternates between tough-guy posturing and naughty sex talk, chronicling endless debauchery with the narrator's assorted cronies (Michael Ventura and the late Lester Bangs make cameos). A legend in his own mind, ""Metzgler"" waxes nostalgic for ""free love"" and enjoys detailing his many conquests and infidelities (during monogamous periods), and delights in body parts and fluids. Aggressive and confrontational from the start, the novel also bores with lists of the narrator's clothes, his cleaning habits, the rashes he's had, the pranks he's played, the gin mills he's known, the pets he's owned, his collections of boxing and jazz memorabilia, and the cockroaches he's battled. He gets even with a number of editors in long rants about his unappreciated and exploited genius. He remembers feeling up his sister and mocks his elderly Jewish parents, who guilt-trip him over his own childlessness. Fancying this a ""cubist"" experience, ""Mertzner"" also suspects he isn't funny and proves he's bored with his own book by taking periodic word counts and announcing his desire to finish long after he should have. A writer whose day has long gone.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1995
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: "Little, Brown"