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"Stories We Could Tell" details a few nights of three youths who work at a music magazine in London. The three boys in their teens go through the night and each come out the other side with a little bit more wisdom and a whole lot less drugs in their pockets.
The book is probably one of the weakest books I've read because the plot line doesn't match the age of the characters and the characters are boring and predictable.
For instance, a newspaper editor wouldn't likely send a 15 year old boy to go out and interview John Lennon. This happens in the book.
However, there are some interesting notes about the era that the characters live in and some nice scenes about London. One finds himself/herself thinking about nights out on the town and comparing them to the characters.
All in all, I'd call this teenage fiction, though most teenagers who didn't grow up on the streets sniffing coke from a key wouldn't be able to relate to it at all. It would be a much better book if the author just changed their ages, made the dialogue less boring and then reprinted it.
I got this book based upon a review I read on this site and I found it to be an enjoyable read. The main character Terry works for a trendy music magazine which employs mainly young writers, Terry is a punk and writes about the music of that era, set over a single twenty foour hour period Terry is meeting the legenday Dag Wood at a club after writing an article about him however Dag is a woaniser and drug addict who is intent on stealing Terry photographer girlfriend.
Meanwhile two other reporters on the magazine, Ray and Leon are on very different missions, Ray must get an interview with John Lennon to keep his job while Leon is attempting to get to a gig while trying to avoid a gang of skin heads he has upset.
I found this an interesting read as it was set in an era I have heard about but not experienced however I do like some modern day punk style bands so it was very interesting. I like the writing style of the author Tony Parsons, it is very easy to read and wells structured, you strt to feel empathy for the three main characters from the start of the book and he does an excellent job of recreating the feel of the punk era when it was in its infancy.
This is a book that would appeal to a wide range of tastes and no one gender and therefore I do recommend it.
I was a bit young to partake in the summer of hate, the whole punk thing came too early for me and my friends, I did catch up a couple of years later and my mate Selwyn (not his real name he looked like the TV character Selwyn Froggat) had a Mohican while I settled for a pair of bondage trousers and a ripped t-shirt. By then the whole punk thing had become main stream and commercialised, who would have thought just over thirty years later and one of the svengali of the time would be on TV advertising butter dressed like Chris Eubanks illegitimate half brother.
This piece of fiction from Tony Parsons attempts to recreate the whole punk vibe in an entertaining and well constructed story that follows three main characters over a twenty four hour period that has a massive impact on each of them and takes their lives in very different directions. It is also a monumental night for music as well as it is the night that Elvis dies. I certainly found it to be an engaging read, partly due to the fact that it talks about an era in music that I'm aware of and has influenced many of the bands I like today and secondly because I found myself really wanting to know the outcome for each of the three characters who each bring different qualities to the book.
All three characters work for a hip seminal music weekly simply called The Paper, a sort of NME style publication, in fact in this book you can see the author Tony Parsons writing about things he knows about personally as he started his own career in journalism at the NME before becoming a successful author with the excellent Man and Boy, a success which he has built upon with books like this one.
The main character is Terry, he is one of the current top writers for The Paper and is just back from Germany having spent time on tour with the legendry Dag Wood, Terry has also built up what he thinks is a friendship with the slightly aging rocker who continues to be popular and his looking forward to his imminent return to London when the pair will hang out and Terry will get to show Dag off to his friends including the love of his life Misty who is a seemingly posh girl and photographer who has moved in with Terry.
The other main characters are Ray, one time youngest ever writer on The Paper and a star yet recently he is struggling to keep on top of the changing face of music and is losing touch as the hippie heroes of his time fade away in the face of the new punk influence, his last chance to keep his job is to get an interview with legendary Beatle John Lennon who is supposed to be on a secret visit to London for one night only however no one knows where he is staying. Finally you have Leon, who is more interested in the current political system and the recent anti racist marches that he has attended, Leon is worried for his own safety as he is pursued by a skin head gang called the Dagenham Dogs who he offended in a recent vitriolic article, he is on his way to review a band however he first has to avoid both the Dogs and a gang of Teddy Boys before he can do anything else.
What I like about this book is the way it blends the three stories together, all three characters are interesting in their own way and all of them have a certain naïve charm, Terry probably the most interesting and the most naïve as he finds his supposed friend Dag intent on sleeping with his girlfriend, the character of Dag reminded me of Iggy Pop in the way he is described and behaved. The book has a nice easy flow to it that meant I kept on turning the pages wanting to find out more which made it a very hard book to put down.
One of the only slight criticisms I had was in the way a couple of the story lines were left hanging a bit, maybe I just wanted a bit more closure on a couple of the events that happened but then again a good book will always have you thinking and reflecting on events and the sentimentalist in me can just believe that everything turns out alright in the end.
Throughout the book there are some nice ironic touches of humour and this is the sort of book that could translate into a really good film script in my opinion especially as it would have a superb musical soundtrack to it. When reading this book you do get a sort of nostalgic twinge running through you and this may be enhanced if you were actually a part of the music scene in 1977 London when punk was at its height and just about to be corrupted by commercial interests.
It would be wrong to categorise this book though as being primarily about punk music, it is in effect about relationships set against a back ground of punk music, it portrays a rites of passage for three male characters and as such will probably have slightly more appeal to male readers and this is certainly a memorable and poignant read that I really enjoyed.
Published by Harper Collins the paperback version I have was as part of a swap on readitswapit. There is no RRP on the back cover however on Amazon the book is £7.99 new but only a penny in the new and used section. The ISBN is 0-007-78113-3 and the book runs to 342 pages.
Thanks for reading and rating my review.