ROCK 'N' ROLL NIGHTS by Todd Strasser


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This novel about a high school rock band in New York could be seen as an answer to Meyer's fictionalized documentary Rock Band (1980). Where Meyer ended realistically with the band breaking up, Strasser follows convention and ends with an evening of raging success for the showcased unknowns; but Strasser, while also avoiding the wilder and seamier side of rock life, conveys a better sense of being there and sharing the group's perceptions. The book's main character is Gary Specter: singer, lyricist, and lead guitar--a clean-cut prep school senior, who has no dates, no friends since he started concentrating on the band, and a hopeless yen for his same-age cousin Susan, the group's sexy bassist. On keyboard, which he sets up onstage on an ironing board, is grouchy Oscar, the youngest at 16, a composing genius with a classical music background and a problem with premature balding. Karl, the drummer, is the dropout son of a flower-child mother who now proves effective as the group's manager. Once they cut a single and are helped by a disc-jockey plug and a window at ""Bleeker Jim's,"" Gary's wide-eyed 13-year-old brother becomes their official and surprisingly competent roadie. Strasser fills in the background with some family dinner-table conversations and one lovely scene in which Gary's abstracted dentist father shoots some baskets with his sons; but mostly this chronicles the group's often discouraging, often sleazy, but gratifyingly promising road to their breakthrough. Well-tempered wish fulfillment with a true sound.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1982
Publisher: Delacorte