A rock journalist sacrifices her relationship with a brilliant rock musician when her fear of flying threatens to hold back his career.
DeBartolo (The God-Shaped Hole, 2001) treats rock music as high art in this self-important romance. After landing an interview with her idol, legendary rocker Doug Blackman, fledgling journalist Eliza Caelum moves to Manhattan to take a job with a music magazine. She finds herself sharing an apartment with Paul Hudson, lead singer of the band Bananafish, who takes his music very seriously and loves the same Doug Blackman song as she: “The Day I Became a Ghost” (Blackman’s no Dylan, or even Dave Mathews.) Soon, Paul and Eliza have fallen deeply in love. Paul’s talent begins to bring the band attention both from an independent producer and from a mega-corporate record company. Drawn to the independent, Paul nevertheless signs with the corporate jerks for the sake of his fellow band members’ financial interest. Despite his own misgivings about becoming a sellout, Eliza is thrilled for him. He, in turn, proposes marriage and wants her to accompany him on tour. Unfortunately, that would entail flying. Her airplane phobia began when her parents died in a plane crash and intensified after she witnessed the 9/11 attack. Not about to let her unwillingness to fly derail Paul’s career, she lets Doug Blackman’s son Loring, a handsome mainstream musician (i.e., sellout) with an obvious crush on her, kiss her when she knows Paul will see them. As expected, Paul assumes the worst. He goes on tour alone and sleeps with a groupie. Eliza moves in with Loring while pining for Paul and his pure rock-’n’-roll soul. Paul’s album bombs because it isn’t commercial enough. Paul and Eliza reunite and make love. Paul commits suicide. Or does he.
Either DeBartolo’s satire is very subtle or this is the most pretentious novel about rock music ever written.