Starred Review. New Yorker editor, music critic and novelist Greenman spins a fresh and explosive new novel about a fictionalized rock 'n' soul star who embraced and revolutionized American counterculture. Robert Franklin, aka Rock Foxx, quickly climbs the ladder from first single to first Billboard hit to the rhinestone stardom of a Rolling Stone cover. In the time of the Beatles, the Stones and Bob Dylan, Foxx injects his unique sound with hints of Otis Redding, Ray Charles and Curtis Mayfield. He sings to make an impression, singing about freedom that was constricting and how, even if you had everything, the mind (and the critics) were never satisfied. His fall from grace—and the spotlight—is as much about character as it is about the unrealized hopes and dreams of the turbulent '60s. McSweeney's regular Greenman (A Circle Is a Balloon and Compass Both) takes readers behind the rhythm and into the soul of a musician and the culture that made and destroyed him. It's a haunting vision of a man, the music and a culture, driven by the author's undeniable passion for his subject. (May)
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“The Foxxes were a popular Bay Area rock and soul band led by the Rock Foxx (born Robert Franklin). The group made its name in the late sixties with a pair of ebullient anthems, ‘Make It Better’ and ‘We All Need a Place in the Sun.’ ” So reads an encyclopedia of rock and roll owned by Franklin’s estranged wife in this fictional history of the Foxxes’ ascent to psychedelic superstardom. Alternating between her perspectives and Franklin’s, Greenman maintains a playful and elastic style, as if every line had come from a Foxxes song. Pauses are not just pregnant; they are “carrying twins.” As the band becomes embroiled in drug culture and the marriage starts to dissolve, we are reminded that “you can only paint the town red so many times before you begin to bleed.”