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How Soon Is Never?: A Novel Paperback – September 23, 2003

3.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Jewish boy from Long Island parlays his New Wave rock music fandom into a quest for love in Spitz's sweet, winning debut, a coming-of-age novel-cum-quirky romantic comedy. Joe Green, Spin writer Spitz's alter ego, is a jaded, jittery and perpetually hungover music critic for Headphones magazine. He's "rocking out and getting high and living irresponsibly" in New York City-all part of the job description of working for a major rock and roll magazine-but he's beginning to worry he looks 40 in daylight, though he's only 30. The well-crafted first half of the novel flashes back to Green's experiences growing up as an alienated, latch-key kid on Long Island in the '70s and '80s who finds redemption in bands like the Clash, Depeche Mode, Devo and the Smiths. Spitz shifts gears when Green meets Miki, a comely co-worker who's equally frustrated with her empty, fast-lane rock and roll life. Matters improve when a new editor gives them the go-ahead for a landmark story: the two team up to try to reunite their beloved band, the Smiths. The scenes in which Miki and Green track down Morrissey and his mates work as the backdrop for the self-deprecating, would-be lovers' efforts to resist their attraction to each other. An engagingly acerbic style freshens the familiar material, and Spitz works hard not to run the Smiths conceit into the ground. The result is a first novel that skirts the usual cliches of rock tales and growing-up sagas.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

There has been a resurgence of interest in the pop music that exploded out of working-class Manchester, England, in the early 1980s. First there was the exuberant film 24-Hour Party People, a paean to the band Joy Division, and now comes this first novel-cum-homage to the Smiths. Dissipated music journalist Joe Green longs to reclaim the purity of his young rock 'n' roll soul. He fondly recalls his fellow high-school outcasts and their unquenchable enthusiasm for local alternative rock station WLIR, which led them to their greatest discovery: the angst-ridden music of the Smiths, whose songs made loneliness, sadness, and outrage seem cool. Although the band has long since broken up, Joe and fellow Headphones magazine employee Miki become obsessed with the idea of reuniting the band. They pitch the idea to their editor and are soon on their way to England, where they meet face-to-face with their personal rock gods while rediscovering their love for the music of their youth. An infectiously enthusiastic ode to rock 'n' roll. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (September 23, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609810405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609810408
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
After finishing this book I think that I'm a pretty horrible kid. I picked it up because I'm a spin reader, and after reading marc Spitz's interview with himself I found it wonderfully cheeky that someone would package their life up as fiction for the sake of taking fabulous exaggerations and cruel observations. Similarly, I thought the picture of the two Spitzes talking to eachother in that october '03 issue, kind of neat.
Anyway. On to my roundabout point, one of the central themes to this utterly addictive saga is the favorite subject of many a music junkie; though covered with layers of drugs and jealousy, the main conflict is the connection that one feels to their favorite band. Not a normal connection, a strange one, the kind when the songs never get old; you can't accomplish anything with their records on because you know the music too well, you find yourself thinking about every aspect of your daily life in reference to them without realizing it, You have to seriosly consider if in the event of an emergency wether you'd save you mother, or their records. (you decide on the autographed record and the mother only because neither is replaceable)
I think that because Spitz is a music junkie it allows him to write from his own "life" with less of a degree of cheek than i'd forseen; mostly with honesty and a frightneing sense of devotion. This book is something to be feared, admired, envied, and most importantly read. I would recommend it to anyone who knows an obsessive music fan, even mothers of obsessed music fans, just so they can begin to understand what exactly is running through their children's minds.
This is it. This is your brain on the smiths.
However, I'm 14. I don't deserve this book. I'm too young to deserve this book.
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Format: Paperback
Prospective readers, you're forewarned: you may lose track of time if you're reading this on your lunch break (or, uh, at your desk). It's definitely difficult to extricate yourself from this one, especially if your adolescence--which you haven't fully outgrown despite all chronological evidence to the contrary--was defined by the ephemeral beauty of The Smiths.
Damaged yet yearning, hapless ex-junkie-cum-downtrodden-bookstore-clerk-cum-voice-of-the-zeitgeist Joe Green knows very well how he got his name, and it's making him feel very mean indeed. Searching for purity & redemption amid the recent spoils of music industry success (read: excess) and the shadows of addiction, fractured family, and failed love, the narrator turns to the seminal songs that "made him cry and the songs that saved his life," crafted by defunct '80's band The Smiths. The first part of _How Soon is Never_? wistfully explores the formative (good and bad) influences in his life: musically, aesthetically, and emotionally.
Both on the anxious cusp of 30, Green and equally Smiths-obsessed coworker Miki hatch a plan to exploit their music-biz access by reuniting the band, despite lots of collective legal & emotional water under the bridge. They're convinced that the reunion will be momentous enough to wipe their respective slates clean. But Green is increasingly more concerned with his connection to Miki than that of the four Mancunians; and with the rediscovery of those songs come some of the painful feelings that the music helped as much to articulate as to transcend during his adolescent years.
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you may hate this book. I didn't read the liner notes very well and thought it was a bio, but it's not. It's a novel. It would be much better if this was as true story. Chances are, if you love the Smiths, you will like this book. Well written.
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Format: Paperback
I have to admit this was an enjoyable read, though I'm not sure why. It can't be because of the protagonist, the author under a thin veil (I suspect this is more memoir than fiction). Joe Green is a solipsistic arse, plain and simple - if anything, I was rooting for this brat to *not* get the girl, or fulfill his mission. So maybe it was because of the band - I was never an obsessed fan, but their music did move me in the same way it moved Spitz. I thought he captured this well - that feeling that a band's music could be speaking directly to you, and only to you. That's why I give it 2 stars - he really understand music's power to move. The rest of this was nonsense - unlikeable character, horrendous pacing (the first 100 pages were growing up on Long Island, pre-Smiths - come on!), and a half-baked premise (the idea of getting the Smiths back together seemed like an afterthought, a background to his self-absorbed musings). To sum it up: I like the Smiths, I like the author's take on music, I dislike the character and the plot. One more thing: if you are not intimately familiar with the Smiths music, I can't see how this book would have any value to you whatsoever - the book teems with references, allusions, and bad puns.
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Format: Paperback
Write about what you know, they say. So back in 2003 Marc Spitz wrote about being a music journalist who shares his name with a well-known sports star and was obsessed with the Smiths as a teenage misfit. The next novel might be a bit more challenging for him, but in the interim, you will probably enjoy this one, even if you aren't a Smiths obsessive, which I am too.

(Curiously enough, I found this on the shelves of a business centre in a corporate hotel in the US, among all the redundant travel guides and how-to guides to doing business. That must say something about the way rock has penetrated the zeitgeist in the unlikeliest of places.)

'Mean' Joe Greene, incidentally. was one of the stars of the formidable Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line in the 1970s. I may be one of few British Smiths fans to know that, by the way. He was a brutally effective player, though by all accounts a pretty decent guy off the field. Joe Green, who hears that joke every day, grows up in suburban Long Island, a misfit who doesn't attract girls or even many male friends, totally out of tune with his contemporaries. His moment of epiphany comes when he hears this wondrous guitar-driven band from Manchester on the other side of the Atlantic.

Somehow, through fandom and an innate ability to write and despite his pathological laziness and tardiness - it seems haphazard, but this was the music press - Joe becomes a journalist, mixes with mostly coke-addled stars, who he comes to despise, and at nearly 30 feels like an imposter on the scene.
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