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Top Customer Reviews
"Eponymous" is a hall of mirrors. Eric Smith, the author, who's been an upstate New York rock critic, has written a book about an upstate New York rock critic who is himself writing a book. The book-within-a-book device is hard to pull off, but when it works (see "Tristram Shandy" and "Adaptation") -- and it works well here -- it's lots of fun. In his "About Eric Smith" section, he states "Eric Smith is not Collie Hay. Honest." Right.
Smith's style is accomplished, seemingly effortless, and lean, yet there's a richness of detail that enlightens every scene and draws you in thoroughly.
Although it helps, it's really unnecessary to be a record geek, or a musician, or a journalist. I know zero about "prog rock," the genre of choice for Collie Hay, and that didn't matter a bit: Smith explains everything that needs explanation, so his audience is just about everybody. Buy this!
Reviewing a book by a friend is usually a way to get oneself in deep trouble. Reviewing a book by a friend published by the normally-loathsome vanity press iUniverse.com is pretty much begging to be struck by lightning. This is the second time I've done it (Charles Sheehan-Miles' Prayer at Rumayla, on that other vanity press, Xlibris), and to put it mildly I was quite relieved when once again I wouldn't have to drag a friend's name through the mud.
I was rather taken aback, though, when I first got the thing. The back-cover effusiveness compares Eponymous to the movies High Fidelity and Almost Famous, two of the more nauseating pictures to come across the silver screen in the past few years. Having been reading Smith's shorter work for a while, though, I should have known better. The boy's a better writer than that, and it comes out here.
Collie Hay is a failed musician making his way as a music critic. Eponymous is the story of how he got that way, from his childhood working in the family music store in South Carolina to his band Arctangent's shot at stardom on a little Sony sublabel. It's also an exposure of self-loathing. Collie Hay does not like himself much. At all, actually. And while self-denigrating humor is pretty easy, to beat yourself up for this many pages with that kind of bitter cynicism rings both horrifying and oddly true. No one plots emotions this much, and that reality in the main character is the book's strongest point. No matter how out of control things get, there's not a single thing in the book that doesn't ring true.Read more ›