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The Red Album of Asbury Park Remixed Paperback – September 2, 2009
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Top customer reviews
Books about Place and Belonging always interest me, and Austin's book, at its center, is 'about' this - at least for me, and isn't that what good books do? Take us to familiar sensory places?
"Hey, rob a liquor store on a Friday night. Do what you have to do to get the money," I said, mindlessly repeating Sal's advice.
"Sam," said Julie, slapping me on the arm.
"What? I didn't say a bank."
"You're a role model."
No, Julie, no role model, I insisted.
(along with this narrative - the introspective/philosophical aspect):
Still, I could not sleep. At 3 a.m., I would sit up in bed with my guitar in my lap, picking out fragments of songs that remained just beyond reach. I was looking for the key, the secret elixir that would transform the sincere and competent into anthems of love, heartache and revolution.
There are many details the author did not overlook. Some of the lines that I thought were very descriptive/evocative:
Mannequins posed in the darkness behind the plateglass windows, elegant in their winter clothes, their features only visible when they seemed to turn their heads to the lights of a passing car, and unoffended at the inattention.
I never told her to stay away; she read it in my eyes, that resentment that I hardly admitted to myself: that her presence took me away from the band, the music, the audience.
"Peace," said Jillian, rising.
"Peace," said Julie.
We both stared after Jillian as she picked up her order and danced out the door. A guy walked into the restaurant carrying a girl, her legs wrapped around his waist from the front and laughing like there was no tomorrow. As Janis Joplin said, "It's all one day."
I thought the dialogs were tight/sharp (nothing worse than superfluous dialog!!) - in the sense that the sometimes *seemingly* meandering conversations _are_ that way for a reason (to this reader, at least) - they capture the ambiguity and tension(s) of a new romance/the mood of the interactions in the (potential) pre-relationship stage.
And always, the lead character's drive/dream of becoming a famous rock star (and the story takes place in New Jersey; NJ natives include Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi, Lauryn Hill, Dionne Warwick - talk about pressure).........hangs over him, doggedly. One can't help but feel for the character, in the sense of his despondency/anxiety about being a struggling, young musician (something every artist can relate to!) in the city. But despite the harshness of reality, it doesn't all end in morose catastrophe. I especially liked a certain caption on pg-12. It's sort of a golden thread that runs through the book - which was nice, I don't always enjoy leaving a (humanistic) book on a depressing note!
Sam has just returned from his stint in the military and on the way to his mother's new home, he meets a free (although heavily damaged) soul named Jillian. Instantly drawn to her, and their mutual respect for music -he finds himself torn between two women, one representing the past and one who represents everything that could be. Meanwhile- Sam wants nothing more than to make it big in the music industry, although the town is small and the stakes are high. Sam is full of soul and passion, qualities that are very admirable in a character. Sam is a likable and truly realistic character that will you cheering for him from start to finish.
Austin does a wonderful, amazing, absolutely phenomenal job at painting a picture. Words are carefully chosen and sentences carefully structured but flow easily as if writing is the most natural thing in the world. Because I was born in the 80's, I was not fortunate enough to belong to the lifestyle of bell bottoms, hippies, and musicians following the Beatles. After reading Austin's novel, I feel like I truly lived there. Like maybe - just maybe - I can now picture what life was like back in the 60s. With real life situations (JFK's & Martin Luther King's assassinations) mentioned in the time line of the plot, the book felt real to me. It gave me that sense of wonder, as if the book may possibly be based on true events. (I admit it, I looked up the band name "Pan" without much luck.)
While I read The Red Album of Asbury Park, I kept thinking what a fabulous movie this would make and am hoping that someday Alex Austin receives such recognition that this would become an easy possibility. For anyone who loves music and would love to read something new, I definitely recommend The Red Album of Asbury Park. Place it on your "To-Read" list as it's a worthy read.