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The Alternative Hero Hardcover – July 21, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A buddy comedy with a Nick Hornby vibe, this debut novel from British musician Thornton charms from the very first chord. As a schoolboy in the late '80s, Clive Beresford is a devoted fan of indie band the Thieving Magpies. Lance Webster, the band's frontman, becomes Clive's hero, a pop culture god Clive follows from gig to gig. After Lance publicly self-destructs and disappears from the public eye, Clive stumbles into an adulthood of failed romance and dismal job prospects and wonders if he'll ever get out of his rut. But after he discovers his former idol living a few doors down the street, Clive makes painfully awkward contact, and the two begin an unlikely friendship with Clive pretending to be clueless about who his neighbor is while secretly intent on writing a tell-all book. Thornton nails the changing music scene of the past two decades, combining real-life artists with the imaginary Magpies, and effortlessly captures the magnetic allure of great rock (The album gave me an unprecedented sense of belonging. Or at least, the potential of belonging). Best of all, though, are the quirky lead characters, two has-beens who jump-start each other's lives. (July)
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Review

“With The Alternative Hero, Tim Thornton has gone through the looking glass of obsessive fandom and brought back a hilarious, memorable, and hard-rocking tale.”
–Madison Smartt Bell, author of All Souls' Rising

“A deliciously bittersweet novel that will touch the heart of anybody who ever fell in love with rock and roll.”
—Mick Brown, author of Tearing Down the Wall of Sound

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (July 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307271099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307271099
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,182,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tim Thornton was born in Darlington in 1973. Despite a boarding-school education and a degree in Drama, his adulthood has largely been spent playing the drums, currently for alt-blues act Fink.

In 2006 he escaped from behind the drumkit and headed for his laptop where he attempted to do what few drummers had done before: string a written sentence together. In fact he managed around 15,000 of them, forming the backbone of his first novel, The Alternative Hero, published by Knopf in 2009.

In 2010 Tim's years of being in bands (9 unsigned, 2 signed) climaxed in a second novel, Death of an Unsigned Band, which contains a further 12,000 sentences, some of which contain verbs. It is shortly to be released by Jonathan Cape in the UK, and might be available in other global destinations if you ask your bookstore very nicely.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In the late 1980s, Clive Beresford loves the indie band Thieving Magpies. In fact the student worships the band's frontman Lance Webster. Clive is a groupie of sorts as he attends every concert the band performs.

However, his hero destroys himself and vanishes from the pop culture scene. Now in his early thirties Clive remains heartbroken and betrayed since his superstar crumbled from the pedestal. Clive is unable to cope in relationships or at work. However, he soon learns his former hero lives nearby and so Clive revs up his courage to meet Lance using his newest job at a vet as the means, but also pretend he does not know this is his fallen angel because he plans to write an exposé.

THE ALTERNATIVE HERO is a wonderful look at music over the past two decades; especially deep is the present era with the audience seeing inside a fallen remorseful hero who was unable to deal with his growing fame back when he was rising. Lance in some ways is like Jonathan Rhys Meyers' role of Louis Connolly in whimsical August Rush though in the movie he gets a second chance. The fun in the tale is Clive as a teen groupie worshiping his God and as an adult scheming to tell all about his fallen God. Although the story line contains too many rigged arrangements including the climax although in fairness that is what Clive is doing, fans will enjoy this dark comedic yet profound tale of the hero falling off the pedestal.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book for a friend after reading a library copy. LOVED the book. It is a must read for anyone into British music of the 1990's and bands like Oasis, Pulp and Blur.
What would you do if you suddenly realized the rock star you spent your youth obsessed with was living down the street, having turned into a broken, old, has been?

What if you thought the one key to putting your own life right was finding out what made him wreck his life and career?

This is the crux of this book and it is a wonderful, music soaked ride.
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By Geoff, OR on April 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This was a lot of fun, once I'd got through the first few pages - definitely worth sticking with the book through its opening section. Its author is a musician who knows what he is writing about, and the tone is Lucky Jim meets High Fidelity. Some of its funniest moments are the invented names of album and track titles. I really liked his idea that Amazon should pay reviewers....
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