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The Mission of the Sacred Heart [Kindle Edition]

Randy Blazak
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $4.00
You Save: $12.00 (75%)

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Book Description

A couple of hipsters, an opera singer, a homeless girl and a guy who may or may not be an alien navigate rainy Portland, Oregon in the year 2000. They each wrestle with the pressing question of the day; What is the point of hanging around when things seem so bleak? The answer comes from the joy of a great song and the rare glimpse of the sun. The novel is filled with sociological insights, inside references for music fans, snide humor, and good reasons not to get too spend too much time in a suicidal funk.

The Mission of the Sacred Heart is a rock novel loosely based on a 1976 Electric Light Orchestra record the author thought was a concept album when he was 12 years old. The novel was originally written in 1999 in Portlandia, while Blazak was loaded on Zoloft.

"Some of the book's best moments are the musical performances in the text. Blazak's descriptions of styles from opera to rock possess a reverence that borders on religious, and they color the relationship between Cozy and Lenny (Zak's musician friends) with a tenderness that floats off the page. But Zak's numerous missteps in his fool's quest to win back Petra--everything from post-breakup mixtapes to drunkenly contemplating the abyss below an ocean bluff--are similarly strong moments, even if only because most readers can identify, having themselves been guilty of similar folly at some point in their lives." - Josh Gross, Boise Weekly

The author maintains a Facebook page for The Mission of the Sacred Heart with regular updates about the book, it's musical inspiration, and resources for suicide prevention.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Randy Blazak is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Portland State University. He earned his PhD from Emory University in 1995 by completing an extensive undercover study of Nazi skinheads. While he was in graduate school, he also worked in a record store, as a music writer, as a manager of a successful rock band, organized poetry readings in Atlanta and published the monthly poetry zine, The Shakey Table. Since moving to Portland, Oregon in 1995, Blazak has become a nationally known expert on hate groups and youth culture. He has published numerous articles, book chapters based on his research. His first book was published in 2001, Renegade Kids, Suburban Outlaws (with Wayne S. Wooden, Wadsworth Publishing) and his second book, Hate Offenders (Praeger Publishing), was published in 2009. He regularly appears on local and national television programs, including Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor (which he refers to as his “4 minutes of shame.”) Blazak began writing The Mission of The Sacred Heart when he was 13, in his bedroom in Stone Mountain, Georgia, while listening to an album by the Electric Light Orchestra called A New World Record. He believed it was a concept album about opera singers and aliens. It wasn’t. Blazak returned to the idea in 1999 when he was suffering from depression and placed on anti-depressants after a failed suicide attempt. Along with the original ELO themes, the writing was an exercise in exploring committing suicide is so difficult, even in a gloomy city like Portland. The book was placed on the backburner until technology caught up with the Do It Yourself ethic from Blazak’s punk rock youth. On April 15, 2011, he made the novel available on Amazon Kindle. The story received immediate acclaim, including from Portland rockstar Storm Large. Portlanders saw it as a love letter to their city and its struggle with Seasonal Affect Disorder. Music lovers found the rich descriptions of rock and opera as compelling as the music itself. One reviewer on Amazon UK, wrote, “Blazak balances well his philosophical musings, which succeed in making one think, and hilarious dialogue and narrative that left me laughing out loud on several occasions. The pace of writing is quick and clever and book evokes tenderness and feeling, along with thoughtfulness and humour.” His writing style has been compared to the likes of Nick Hornby, Hunter S. Thompson, and Tom Robbins. Randy Blazak is currently working on a memoir about rock stars.

Product Details

  • File Size: 450 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004WT7KLC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #676,881 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From rockin' beginning to operatic end September 13, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There is something about viewing the world we live in as an outsider, and many of us think we are on the outside. But when that outsider is Telly Max, well, look out Portland!

I loved the first chapter because Portland has been my home for many years, and the descriptions of downtown Portland during the day and at night took me back in time, and space. There was something that did not feel right in the first few pages and since I really could not put my finger on it or even express it, I decided I would continue on and see how I felt. And I am really glad that I did.

Being a soundtrack person myself, this novel was a music lover's fest from its rockin' beginning to its operatic end. Loved that Telly's home planet was Elo, and how each chapter title invoked one of the rockdoms that is the Electric Light Orchestra. And as much music, be it rock or blues or opera permeates the novel, the book is about so much more than that. It is about trying to hold on in a world that has entered a new millennium, and trying to "keep hope alive", as Jesse Jackson loved to say, in a world where people are crushed either by their own demons, or those of the individualistic society in which we live. Where characters like Zak and Lucinda want change in their lives, but need something BIG to push them to make that move themselves (They need Telly). Where hopelessness drives one to consider suicide when the rainbow is never quite enough.

This novel hardly takes suicide lightly. In fact it care-fully depicts the frustrations, and offers alternatives. Because there is always an alternative.

Telly kept making me think of Antoine de Saint-Exupery's "Le Petit Prince" who is one of my favorite aliens fallen to Earth.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book Rocks! January 29, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of my all-time favorite books is "Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung", a collection of writings by the late great Lester Bangs, one of rock and roll's most legendary critics. The subtitle of that book is "Rock and Roll as Literature, and Literature as Rock and Roll". That sub-title could also apply to Randy Blazak's book "The Mission of the Sacred Heart: A Rock Novel" - this book oozes music from every pore, every page - in the dialogue, the introspective soliloquies, even the chapter titles.
All of life's dichotomies share the spotlight here: love and loss...passion and pain...horror and hope...suicide and sugary sweetness...bubblegum and bubbles burst...innocent delight and inconsolable despair. All are set within a rock and roll paradigm that pulses with a rhythm that feels like life. The constant flow of musical and cultural references will resonate most deeply with those of us who came of age in the 70's and 80's, but the themes are timeless - the search for purpose, meaning, and harmony in a world that can often seem cold and cruel...the desperate struggle against irrelevance and complacency...and the inspirational healing power of music.
If you are like me, and you try to fill every moment of your life with music....if your heart pumps to a rock and roll backbeat, if music is the rejuvenating lifeblood that flows through your veins....read this book, and sing along. And let love reign o'er you too.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Would be a great movie January 6, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I hope this will be the first of many novels from Blazak. The story is well-crafted and vividly told. I could imagine the music soundtrack to the story and I think the material would be best applied to a feature-length independent film, since the dialog as written here crackles with realism and humor. Blazak does not completely abandon his professorial background, in that he adds short academic information to social trends such as suicide, the epidemic of street people and drug use. Using the character "Telly" (his Brother from Another Planet), actually works to help the reader see these issues with new eyes and to understand how we humans cope with adversity and how we all seem to have a different medicine that leads to the same cure. Also, there is a strong romantic/poetic voice to parts of the narrative and setting that would lend itself to a strong screenplay. I particularly enjoyed the opening scene and the acid trip.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make it your mission to read this sacred book May 25, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Wow, I wasn't really expecting this. Yeah, this is a novel about Portland hipsters, but it's really a book depression and all the madness in your soul when you are in an obsessive state. I get the feeling the author was on the brink of insanity when he wrote it. The humor is in the vein of Kurt Vonnegut; just non-stop sarcasm. But there is a big thread of Tom Robbins' writing style as well. And the storyline drives like Kerouac, highly caffeinated. It rolls like a rock song.

Mission of the Sacred Heart has as much to do with suicide as it does rock and roll. Don't get me wrong, this story has a million music references, but the rock and roll is there as salvation. I downloaded the ELO album it is loosely based on and it helps the storyline. Each chapter is anchored in a song on the New World Record album, and listening to the ELO album helps create the feel of each chapter. If they ever make this into a movie (which seems inevitable), it's going to require a massive soundtrack.There are plenty of odd sub-plots and an ending Pete Townsend would be proud of. Hopefully it will be out in print by the holidays.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it.
I related very well to this book. Similar ways of thinking about the world.
Almost similar circumstances: university student taking antidepressants to keep suicidal thoughts... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Heidi
5.0 out of 5 stars The Collective Soul of The Mission of the Sacred Heart
"Reality is a frail thing. You spend your life constructing this picture of the way things are. It's an intricate painting with thousands of hues, but each one deeply embedded with... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kiera Byrd
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bittersweet Symphony indeed.
I admit that I only read this book because I have a mutual friend with the author, who asked me to buy the book in support of him. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jon Myers
5.0 out of 5 stars an awesome escape from living in South Carolina ...
I could have bought this on Kindle but I'm glad I got a proper copy. I scribbled 4 Feb 2013 on the first page when it arrived. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Kathy Stone Miss Honeysuckle Blue
5.0 out of 5 stars This wonderful, terrible journey will make you laugh and cry
A must-read for pretty much anyone - musician, music lover, anyone who was ever a teenager, young, old. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Steph
5.0 out of 5 stars Mission of the Sacred Heart?
Fabulous read. I was hooked from the first chapter. A bittersweet story that brought back many memories of love's lost and gained. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Jennifer
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected craving!
I am not usually a fiction reader but to call this book fiction would not be accurate. It is truthful and real in many aspects from the rich descriptions of my city to the people... Read more
Published on August 19, 2011 by JDSafley
5.0 out of 5 stars Can rock 'n' roll really save the world?
Just finished this fantastic voyage of a book.... A great read, a meditation on life and love, and a story that rings true. Read more
Published on July 11, 2011 by Charlotte Hyde-Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars a story of hope...
this is a wonderful tale. while the cover states "a rock novel by randy blazak" this is really a story about hope set to a rock soundtrack. Read more
Published on July 10, 2011 by Dan Vaganek
5.0 out of 5 stars Page turner, for sure
Seldom do I say that a book was a page turner, but this was a book that I couldn't put down. When I didn't have my iPod in hand, I craved to hold it and read more about Zak and... Read more
Published on July 8, 2011 by Bahar Jaberi
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