And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You is the debut novel from Kathi Kamen Goldmark, the San Francisco musician who started the Rock Bottom Remainders, the publishing-world supergroup whose members include Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Molly Ivins, and Carl Hiassen. Goldmark, formerly the group's token nonwriter, has produced a novel about Sarah Jean Pixlie, a Bay Area country singer who stumbles into stardom. The book is utterly shapeless when it comes to plot, and can be oddly uninformative about key moments of Sarah Jean's life (like, say, the birth of her child). Still, Goldmark writes with a rollicking good humor that's oddly infectious. She's like a bar band that you can't help but enjoy just because they're having so much fun. And her passages on musical mores have an easygoing, insiderish feel. Here she writes about life on the road:
Pretty soon there were at least fifteen sweaty band and crew members sprawled on the bed, chairs, and floor. Sacks of fast-food takeout and a couple of bottles appeared. It's the truth that Wild Turkey on ice from the machine down the hall, in a hotel bathroom glass, can make you a very special kind of stupid.
The whole affair is plagued by a gimmick that quickly palls: Sarah Jean has a habit of turning her troubles into cute country-western lyrics--which are, sadly, included in the book. --Claire Dederer
From Publishers Weekly
Goldmark takes an offbeat spin through the world of country music in her charming debut, which begins when backup singer Sarah Jean Pixlie gets fired by country star Cindi Lu Bender because a song Sarah Jean wrote has been nominated for an award. She heads home to the Bay Area to crash with her parents and learns that her one-night fling with a guitarist has led to a pregnancy. Goldmark alternates between family subplots and career struggles, following the attempts of Sarah Jean and her free-spirited friends to make it in the music business. Highlights include Sarah Jean's choice between the baby's father and the drummer who becomes her ambivalent new boyfriend, a winning performance at the awards show and the subsequent success of her CD and video. Meanwhile, Sarah Jean and her friends try to unravel a scam involving CD sales, orchestrated by Cindy Lu's people. A couple of the family subplots are clunkers, but a quirky, satirical edge keeps the novel from falling into rags-to-riches cliches. The combination of Goldmark's playful humor, her smooth prose style and her knowledge of the music business carry the day; despite the occasional misstep, the whole ends up exceeding the sum of its parts by a considerable margin.
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