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Mid-life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1995


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Marsh documents the adventures of 15 well-known writers, including Matt Groening, Stephen King, Amy Tan and himself, who formed a rock group and toured the East Coast.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Organized by a literary publicist for a charity event at the 1992 American Booksellers Association convention, the Remainders are the world's most literate rock'n'roll band. Members (and associates) include Dave Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver, Roy Blount Jr., and Robert Fulghum; rock veteran Al Kooper served as musical director. In May 1993 the Remainders reunited for a nine-city "tour" of the East Coast. This is an account, with contributions by everyone in the band (and photos by King's wife, Tabitha) of that crazy month. As the title suggests, more than a few authors use the experience to examine seriously (or humorously) what attracted them to playing "Louie Louie" in public. The results are mixed; this will be of more interest to fans of the authors than music aficionados.
--Thomas Wiener, formerly with "American Film"
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (August 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452274591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452274594
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,441,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By David J. Loftus on April 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although I vaguely noted the news stories when this band of idiots went on the road in 1993, I only ran across this book by chance three days ago. I read it in less than two. Although the whole idea of authors forming a rock band and doing a tour sounds pretty stupid and self-indulgent, the results were not only good for them, but surprisingly moving and inspiring for anyone who might read this book. I'm sure I enjoyed it no less than the two previous reviewers, but I'm a tough grader, so I gave it four stars.
I always knew Stephen King and Dave Barry were regular guys I would just love to meet and have a beer with, but what a shock to find out about the lovely, funny, human sides of Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver, Al Kooper (the musical director of this motley crew), Dave Marsh (rock critic and editor) and others!
I laughed 'til I cried over Barry's chapter. Everyone has his or her funny moments, but the chapters by Tan, Kingsolver, and Marsh are refreshingly touching and vulnerable, too.
Best quotes:
--King calls himself "a kind of Norman Rockwell version of Freddy Krueger"
--Kooper: "The mere fact that you're reading this right now is a testimony to the selfishness of twenty-three bored people."
--Roy Blount, Jr.: being on stage in a rock and roll band is "like being inside a forest fire that you're helping, however modestly, to spread"
--music critic Joel Selvin: "Most people seem to think critics are as useful as tits on a priest."
--Barry: "Our groupie budget is kinda low, so we're not getting top quality -- at times, they get a little angry at us and throw their walkers at us and stuff like that."
--Barry again: "...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver, Dave Marsh and other famous authors formed an ad hoc rock band for a booksellers' convention, everyone--including them--saw it as a one-time lark. Their motto: "We play music as well as Metallica writes novels." But energized by the experience, and the fantasies and camaraderie it sparked, they decided to mount an East-Coast tour as The Rock-Bottom Remainders. In this book, each writer/musician? relates a chapter of the adventure from his or her own perspective. A lot of it is hilarious: most of Dave Barry's and Roy Blount, Jr.'s, contributions, for instance, as well as--surprise--much of Amy Tan's. But the book is also reflective, revealing, and at times surprisingly moving. This is a book for fans of any of the authors represented, for those curious about intersections of American pop culture, and for anyone who has ever dreamed of breaking out of the mold
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Ebeling on October 27, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
For the 1992 American Booksellers Association (ABA) in Anaheim, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, a San Francisco rock musician who still held a day job--escorting out of town authors to readings and other events--had an idea. What if she could pull together a group of the well-known authors she'd met and transform them into a rock group for some entertainment, with proceeds benefitting a literacy campaign? By the time she finished, she had Ridley Pearson on bass, Dave Barry and Stephen King on guitar, Barbara Kingsolver on keyboards, the Remainderettes--Amy Tan, journalist Tad Bartimus and Goldmark, and the Critics Chorus--variously consisting of Roy Blount, Jr., Dave Marsh, and Greil Marcus. Michael Dorris, Robert Fulghum and Matt Groening were in the mix, too. Legendary rocker Al Kooper tried to direct them. Someone encouraged Don Henley to review them (thumbs down, way down) and the show was caught on video, which led to a hullabaloo with a music publisher. It took a lot out of the very busy schedules of people who were not, with exception of part of really musicians. So what did these mostly 35 - 50-something writers do once it was over?

They decided to go on a benefit tour from Boston to Miami, just like a real rock band, on a bus, the next spring. "Mid-Life Confidential" is a collection of the participants' individual accounts of what really happened. The effect of reading this book is like walking into a loud messy party after everyone else got there. At first references to things that happened in Anaheim don't exactly make sense, but through the aggregation of accounts, the cloud of confusion lifts on, for instance, what the publisher's issue was and how Dave Barry, um, handled it, as well as what Don Henley wrote (thumbs way down).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marc L. Tavasci on April 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What do you get when you take a bunch of authors, some with very little or no musical talent, and put them together in a band? Well, you get the Rock Bottom Remainders. While the band won't make you forget any of the great bands in rock 'n roll history anytime soon, they not only have fun playing, the experience has helped each of them grow in different ways.

Each chapter is written by a different member of their 1993 East Coast Tour (aka the Three Chords and an Attitude Tour) and provides lots of insight into life on a tour bus, the trials and tribulations of actually learning how to play the guitar, and how to do a transverse colon massage. There are lots of great pictures by Tabitha King (wife of Stephen King), and some very humorous writing by such notables as Stephen King, Dave Barry and Amy Tan. The book is a pretty quick read and will definitely give you a few chuckles.
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