Utopia Avenue ePUB Ê Hardcover

Utopia Avenue [Download] ➶ Utopia Avenue ✤ David Mitchell – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk The long awaited new novel from the bestselling prize winning author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone ClocksUtopia Avenue is the strangest British band you’ve never heard of Emerging from London’s psyc The long awaited new novel from the bestselling prize winning author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone ClocksUtopia Avenue is the strangest British band you’ve never heard of Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in and fronted by folk singer Elf Holloway guitar demigod Jasper de Zoet and blues bassist Dean Moss Utopia Avenue released only two LPs during its brief blazing journey from the clubs of Soho and drafty ballrooms to Top of the Pops and the cusp of chart success and on to glory in Amsterdam prison in Rome and a fateful American fortnight in the autumn of David Mitchell’s captivating new novel tells the unexpurgated story of Utopia Avenue; of riots in the streets and revolutions in the head; of drugs thugs madness love sex death art; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t; of fame’s Faustian pact and stardom’s wobbly ladder Can we change the world in turbulent times or does the world change us.


10 thoughts on “Utopia Avenue

  1. Violet wells Violet wells says:

    I hate to say this but after some entertainment early on I found Utopia Avenue irritating vapid and often boring My love affair with Mitchell reached its peak with Cloud Atlas The decline began with The Bone Clocks and Slade House They at least though were entertaining in their silly madcap way This often struck me as a novel written with too much glee and not enough artistry Mitchell loves the band he's created He writes about them with fidgety infatuated excitement He lovingly describes their songs and provides us with longwinded dreary interviews they give to the press There's lots of dressing in this novel In fact at times it seems like 90% dressing with a thin story running through it Like the long gratuitous passages of crass chit chat and the Madame Tussauds cast of dead rock stars who each appear for a cameo appearance but who are mostly as silly and gimmicky as waxworks When I think of how many memorable characters he created in Cloud Atlas it's baffling that here he couldn't come up with a single one of compelling interest It's like he's so smitten with the band he's created he neglects to bother much about its components Dean the bass player is insidiously obnoxious and would make a splendid villain The problem is Mitchell wants us to like him so his villainy serves little purpose And the relentless replacing of you with yer in his speech grated like hell Elf probably gets my vote as the most anaemic female character I've encountered all year always lovesick no surprise even Mitchell seems to lose interest in her half way through the novel The less said about the hackneyed drummer the better Jasper de Zoet is a descendent of Jacob and is interesting until all the magical metanovel stuff arrives The vapid way in which his mental health issues are overnight cured is pure silliness The speed and ease with which Dean and Elf exorcise their demons is barely less trite Often it reads like a tabloid vision of a rock band All the clichés are present Bondage sex fuelled by cocaine paternity suits blackmail adultery scandal plagiarism and all within the space of a year It's a novel full of melodrama with very little character interaction Much of the melodrama has no purpose a fatal car crash forgotten almost immediately after it occurs The death of a child likewise A sex slave ring brought in briefly to provide some cheap frisson This band experiences drama in a year than any other band in their entire careers The daily personal challenges and relationships we all go through in life seem to bore David Mitchell Ultimately his attention always shifts to what's larger than normal life This worked in Cloud Atlas because the narratives were short Over a 600 page novel the presence of so much melodrama and high emotion becomes tiresome Like not being able to get off a Big DipperThere are some great sentences but there are also way too many bum notes for me Most of the time it just didn't ring true It read to me like wish fulfilment fiction on the part of Mitchell No surprise it didn't even make the Booker short list


  2. Vit Babenco Vit Babenco says:

    Offspring of the swinging sixties were flower children and rock musicians Now ‘looking through a glass onion’ David Mitchell recreates that fabulous psychedelic epoch‘The Beatles the Stones the Who the Kinks’ says Griff ‘They’re not trying to change the world They don’t buy their mansions by writing anthems about CND or making a socialist paradise They’re just out to make fookin’ good music’‘The best pop songs are art’ says Jasper ‘Making art is already a political act The artist rejects the dominant version of the world The artist proposes a new version A subversion It’s there in the etymology Tyrants are right to fear art’To boys and girls any rock song is a song of freedom – freedom from the dull world of adults freedom from the boring conventions of society To parents all rock songs are bats out of hellThe rods and cones packing his retinas convert the light into electrical impulses that travel along optic nerves into his brain which translates the varying wavelengths of light into ‘Virgin Mary blue’ ‘blood of Christ red’ ‘Gethsemane green’ and interprets the images as twelve disciples each occupying a segment of the cartwheel window Vision begins in the heart of the sun Jasper notes that Jesus’s disciples were essentially hippies long hair gowns stoner expressions irregular employment spiritual convictions dubious sleeping arrangements and a guruThe old want old times to stay The young want new times to comeAll the times are so different All the times are so similar


  3. Kyle Kyle says:

    People of Goodreads this one was worth the wait David Mitchell is a gift to the literary world and his groovy new novel Utopia Avenue TOPS THE CHARTS This may very well be my favorite of the year and it’s only FebruaryFirst things first I LIIIIIIIVED for the music pop culture film and history references in this book David Mitchell chose his decade and setting well for this outing The 60’s London music scene was and is I CO NIC but it was also a decade of momentous change conflict and advancement The Swingin’ Sixties was counter culture and civil rights Vietnam hippies beatniks psychedelia and LSD revolution riots and sex drugs rock ‘n’ roll All of that you’ll find here There is so much to pull from and Mr Mitchell wastes not a single important momentThis novel is really a who’s who of the 60’s and—to just get it out of the way—is mostly why I took off half a star Why you may ask? We meet so many infamous characters from the era which is all super exciting but it throws the narrative off after the first dozen or so and kind of becomes this whole ‘who can I toss into the plot now that was around in 1967?’ just for the hell of it In keeping with the music vibe It’s a bit of a scratch in an otherwise groovy recordAnywho the review plows onwardsThe interconnected ness of David Mitchell’s novels makes me giddy so if you’ve read his previous works you’ll be treated to some fun Easter Eggs from his sprawling multiverseI may or may not have cried at some of the familiar names and places You’ll never know and I’ll never fully admit it Each chapter header is a song driven by the narratives of a character’s arc which I thought a cool addition It works to the story’s benefitThe way Mr Mitchell crafts his characters from the get go and with such finesse was what hooked me I was immediately invested in each of them—Dean Elf Jasper Levon Griff—they all came alive It’s really a testament to the writing that barely 10% into the book all the characters were already so fully realized Each of their respective chapters—as the POV shifts between Dean the bassist Elf the keyboardist Jasper the guitarist and once each for Griff the drummer and Levon their manager—all have a distinctive voice and moodemotion running through themDean’s chapters were tragi comic in a sense Scraping by down on his luck His felt at times like incertitude desperation excess bumbling hopefulness A character comes in halfway through and describes each band member through their music “Life is a battle is hard but you is not alone”Elf’s were mostly personal drama A talented woman trying to make waves in a man’s world all the while grappling with her own confusions Her chapters were insecurity uestioning repression finding an escape and tightly wound stresses ”Life is sad is joy is emotions”Jasper’s chapters were well let’s just say his POV introduction was ‘manic thoughts on a runaway train’ To be honest and even though I loved them all his chapters were the ones I looked forward to the most I found them totally absorbing David Mitchell has created such a complex character in Jasper It’s all very ‘tortured artist’ on the surface but it goes much deeper than that Jasper’s struggles with and I use this term loosely knowing the full context of the story “mental illness” really hit me hard Reading his racing thoughts was like reading my own—perfectly capturing the mania Knock knock His chapters made me think melancholia tension genius artist deeply removed but holding on He was constantly having to “act” the part of a “Normal” human being and fighting to keep sane view spoilerWhen Jasper was walking into the sea ”You can’t undo that ending” I teared up uite a bit at that part hide spoiler


  4. Nilufer Ozmekik Nilufer Ozmekik says:

    Welcome to the swinging sixties to the world of youth driven revolution modernism combines with hedonism showing its creative flourishing at the art music fashion The world of Vietnam War hippies drugs sex rebellion rock n roll But this is not a story about Four Liverpool boys conuer the world with their rhythm and charisma or the other band members made us empathize with devil and taught us the importance of having satisfactionNope this story is about Utopia Avenue one of the strangest British bands of the history The most enjoying fact about the introductions is the method of characters’ definitions They are described by their music and lyrics We’re introduced to the band members starting with Elf Holloway folksinger a brilliant woman trying to survive at the man’s world but her parts of the story were mostly melodramatic about her fights with her insecurities and self sufficiencySo let’s go back to meet with the others I have to admit I enjoyed their stories Even though they’re tragic heart wrenching and consisting a very dark humor and sarcasmDean Moss Blues bassist dealing with his bad luck and surviving in his tragi comic life choicesBut our guitarist Jasper De Zot’s story was heartbreaking than the others because of his inner fight with his mental illness His pain suffer at the creation process Let me tell you something I haven’t read something so powerful realistic and emotional that describes the challenging points of creating art It reminded me of Bohemian Rhapsody movies’ tragi comic scene mostly silly comic as the band members locked themselves into a bar and finally they were illuminated by finding the lyrics world they magically appeared in their minds??? Really is that Oscar winning best movie script?Anyways I don’t want to compare this remarkable masterpiece with shitty script’s painfully absurd song creating process scene or Daisy and the six’s daytime TV romance kind of story telling by using docuseries transcripts But I can imagine how challenging compelling and aching process to create something concrete like giving a child birthAnd of course I had no idea about the term named “emotional dyslexia” till I read the impeccable depictions and its effects on the people Jasper is suffering from this uniue complex illness which means it is challenging for him to understand his own feelings and reflect them to the outside world Sometimes his expressions and articulations don’t reflect what he’s bottled inside which makes him ticking bomb too many unexpressed and hidden emotions create a whirlwind turmoil so only his music and song lyrics help him to surviveThis is musically uniue vivid original head spinning entertaining ultra smart journey with too many surprising cameos from John Lennon Diana Ross Leonard Cohen Jerry Garcia to Keith Moon Mama Cass Just grab the book and join David Mitchell’s powerful magical extraordinary universeUtopia means “nowhere” but maybe we can find my happiness at that place with right directions coming from our own hearts45 magical mesmerizing complex musical experimental stars rounded 5So much special thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for giving me opportunity to read and review this ARC I’m always a big fan of David Mitchell’s captivating outstanding novels and I truly loved this bookbloginstagramfacebooktwitter


  5. Marchpane Marchpane says:

    “the supreme enemy of all Utopias—boredom”―Arthur C ClarkeWith its goofy celebrity cameos cheesy dialogue and affable but wooden characters Utopia Avenue is a bit like an extended Doctor Who episode set in the Swinging Sixties except it’s much less fun and takes itself way too seriouslyThis novel is too long too dull and unconvincing as a 1960s period piece I can’t see that it adds anything to the Mitchellverse that we don’t already know from previous novels I haven’t read them all so I could be wrong There are LOTS of Easter eggs to be found but that’s all they areIf this had been a debut from an unknown it might have received a ‘shows potential’ two stars But Mitchell is an established successful author whose work I have previously enjoyed who seems to be indulging an ‘I coulda been a songwriter’ exercise in wish fulfilment rather than writing a novel that serves his readers Edit this draft down kill some darlings find a narrative backbone and Utopia Avenue might have been a decent if cheesy summer readAs is there’s no real narrative throughline A band forms dub themselves Utopia Avenue cut records go on tour meet some famous people Occasionally a Meaningful Thing happens to one of them but these events are only devices so that the band member can write a song about it Often it seems like the creation of the song gets page time than the Meaningful Thing The exception is guitarist Jasper’s story which is the one that connects to Mitchell’s other works—this plotline has a little body to it just enough to make you wonder why Mitchell didn’t write a novel wholly about Jasper de Zoet Having said that the resolution of Jasper’s plotline characters from Mitchell’s other novels show up wave a magic wand to solve Jasper’s problem and disappear is pretty unsatisfyingThe characters are underdrawn and apart from the minimal effects of that magic wand on Jasper they don’t really change or develop over the course of 600 pages despite attaining fame and success and generally having their lives transformed by stardom Very little goes wrong for the band outside of the Meaningful Things—there are no egos or spats this is the Mary Poppins of rock bands practically perfect in every way The celebrity cameos of which there were FAR too many rang eually false The women characters were particularly bad and seemingly incapable of thinking about anything other than their relationships or their own womanness When Janis Joplin appears briefly it’s to ask Elf Utopia Avenue’s only female member if she knows ‘How to do what we do as a woman’ and to complain about Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel #2 lyrics ‘she gave me head on the unmade bed’ which by the by Cohen wrote about Joplin after her death but apparently Mitchell’s contribution to “feminism” here justifies the anachronismElf is attracted to women and spends most of her storyline figuring out her sexuality Even so she can’t stop thinking about men Seeing a couple getting romantic ‘He looks plain She’s gorgeous like a she wolf I wish I was him’ When she’s with a male lover ‘Elf wonders what it’s like to be the guy’ And while being kissed by a woman ‘ No male stubble to pretend to not mind as it scrubs me raw’ The male gaze writing of this ueer female character is cringe inducingIn fact a lot of this novel made me cringe I think I strained my eyeballs rolling them The dialogue was either corny ‘I – lost – my – shit’ ‘We’re still learning American Is losing shit a good thing or a bad thing? or just unconvincing not to mention a few racially insensitive moments Mitchell loves onomatopoeia The phone ring rings in the hallway Click Purrr Dean hangs up‘Hold the line one moment sir’ Click; scratch; clunk ‘God of Rock how are yer?’ Click Scrit scrit This one is repeated a lot it’s a camera It got irritating Chingggggggggggg A hush descends That’s tapping a glass to make a toast Scratch scratch scratch goes Amy’s penElf’s nerves went zzzzzzt I tell you what my own nerves were going zzzzzzt trying to get to the end of this book But it might have been bearable if the novel had not been so very dull Half a page for a character ordering room service Working out the chords to a song Running through full set lists of fictional songs by a fictional band The band doing ‘publicity’—ie vapid As And endless encounters with famous 60s icons consisting of ‘look it’s Insert Name Here ’ followed by tedious small talkFor me Utopia Avenue was a stodgy 600 page damp suib Still I know that there will be plenty of readers who will enjoy it and be unbothered by the things I found grating Its nostalgia and uncomplicated sunny optimism admittedly give it plenty of appeal especially right now I get it But I did NOT dig it


  6. Hanneke Hanneke says:

    Expect the unexpected Isn’t that always the case with any new novel by David Mitchell? After ‘The Bone Clocks’ and ‘Slade House’ I was certainly not expecting a straightforward narrative and I must confess that this made me initially nervous even a bit anxious because I feared that David Mitchell had decided to write a novel in a conventional way just to show he is capable to do that magnificently as well Thus to my surprise I did not encounter any unexpected strange or fantastical events popping up for some three uarters of the novel Even in the last uarter you cannot deny that anything out of the ordinary occured Unorthodox thoughts and deep despairs only took place in peoples' minds thus or less invisible We are being told the breathtaking tale of the rise of the psychedelic rockband Utopia Avenue from their early beginnings in damp venues in way off towns in Britain in 1967 through their successful performances in the US in 1968 It is clear that David Mitchell was enjoying himself tremendously giving us his very affectionate characterizations of the four band members They are a playful lot expressing lots of emotions and sometimes even sentimentality which is luckily just within good taste Three of them have great song writing talents so you just have to visualize David Mitchell’s big grins on writing those lyrics as well as their conversations with about all the big rock stars of that time They are all there Janis Joplin Leonard Cohen Brian Jones and many especially David Bowie who always seemed to be lost and taking the wrong way on staircases The most outstanding member of the band is Jasper de Zoet Dutch former UK public school boy and the direct descendent of Jacob de Zoet who we have previously met in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet Jasper’s mental condition is delicate even heartbreaking but his guitar playing is virtuoso and is often compared to Eric Clapton’s With the nerve wrecking peeks into Jasper’s schizofrenic mind the fantastical enters the story and I liked that although you had to feel sorry for Jasper In the last part of the book the tone of voice sometimes reminded me of ‘Jacob de Zoet’ in which the story was also sprinkled with supernatural occurances but very sparsely as wellDavid Mitchell’s tales are never restricted by borders in any way be it physical nor by time past and future and it was really pleasant when encountering old friends again Frobischer Luisa Rey Marinus and a few that will be recognized with pleasure by David Mitchell’s fans of previous novels This novel was almost too much of a good thing sometimes but David Mitchell really pulled it off I just really loved it but then I admit I am biased with regard to David Mitchell’s writing


  7. Doug Doug says:

    45 rounded up In many respects this is a departure for Mr Mitchell and I think how people will react to it will largely depend on whether they are long time die hard aficionados as I AM or if this is their first exposure to this definitely sui generis author This chronicle of two years in the formation and rise to fame of a late sixties 'psychedelicpoprockfolk' group could easily be seen as just a literary version of the recent best seller Daisy Jones The Six since it treads similar ground within the same time frame And for those who approach it as such they won't be disappointed since it's like getting a bird's eye view to a period many of us weren't around for indeed Mitchell himself wasn't born till 1969 so his feat of reconstruction here is astonishing In fact virtually EVERY famous and up and coming musical act of 1967 68 from John Lennon to Leonard Cohen to Mama Cass to Keith Moon to Jerry Garcia to Diana Ross etc etc seems to make at least a cameo appearance in these pages which MIGHT get a bit annoying if it wasn't also so much fun For those without any knowledge of the Mitchell multiverse the book is largely easy enough to follow with perhaps the minor exception of ONE chapter as explained below and will be satisfying on that fundamental level alone But for fans the exhilaration in any new Mitchell novel is playing connect the dots between this and his previous opuses These people will probably NOT be disappointed either since characters and concepts from those works show up regularly from minor shout outs Robert Frobisher from 'Cloud Atlas'; Bat Segundo from his first novel 'Ghostwritten' to at least semi major characters Luisa Rey Crispin Hershey Esther Little and Marinus from several previous works here Since I have a mind like a sieve I regularly had to consult the Wikipedia entries for each of the novels to refresh my memory about his canon and I strongly suggest anyone who wants to get the most from the book to do the same Thar said however the complex metaphysics so prominent in Mitchell's last novel 'The Bone Clocks' with the cosmic meddling of the Horologists etc only makes a very late appearance in a single chapter to explain the schizophrenia of guitar wizard Jasper de Zoet progeny of the titular character in 'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet' several generations removed so those expecting Mitchell to expand on those concepts could come away unsatisfied I must admit I got somewhat lost trying to follow the myriad intricacies in 'Bone Clocks' so actually appreciated the short shrift it gets here but others might miss such pyrotechnics The book comes to a most satisfying conclusion though especially for this San Francisco native since the final chapters take place here following the fabled Summer of Love and this will surely make my 'best of' list for the year Mitchell has garnered five Booker nominations for his previous seven books so I wouldn't be at all surprised if this became his sixth and he could perhaps even take home the prize this time although I have a feeling either Mantel or Ali Smith will take it for the final volumes in their respective seriesMy sincere thanks to both Random House and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for this honest and enthusiastic review


  8. Jeffrey Keeten Jeffrey Keeten says:

    ”’We’re likePrincesses in the age of dynastic marriages’Janis bites her lower lip and nods ‘And our fame raises the value of locker room bragging Which the guys gain from Oh yeah Janis Joplin? I know Janis She gave me head on the unmade bed I hate it But how do you fight it? Or change it? Or survive it?’‘I’m not on your level yet’ says Elf ‘Have you any advice?’‘No advice Only a fear and a name Billie Holiday’Elf takes a third sip of Brutal Truth ‘Didn’t Billie Holiday die a heroin addict with no functioning liver under arrest on her death bed with only seventy cents in her bank account?’Janis lights a cigarette ‘That’s the fear’”I don’t know if there has ever been a exploited group of artists on the planet than musicians especially rock musicians They hit it big with record deals and sold out crowds at their concerts and everyone around them assumes they are rich but in reality they don’t have a pot to piss in The studios and agents lock them up in contracts that make sure the bulk of the money stays with the nontalent side of the partnership ”’Often the talent doesn’t want to believe it because that would prove they’re gullible morons They prefer to look away I know one manager who gets the talent so hooked on drugs they’re too fried to ask about the money’”The road to being successful is so difficult and everyone is aware of the number of bands that implode or never get any traction before disappearing without a trace Bands are desperate to get a deal and frankly the money is secondary to just being recognized It is easy to exploit desperation I’ve seen writers do it too They are so relieved that someone wants to publish their book they couldn’t care less about the money Goodreads depends on all of us to write reviews for free to make their site work We do it for the love of the game There is a lot of suffering creating art of any kind and I’m not sure why our system is designed to make it so hard for artistswritersmusicians to be successful In 1967 the beginning of drug culture the birth of rock and roll and free love it was so easy to exploit these creative people who were bursting with wild thoughts they needed to express and desires that needed to be fulfilled The wrong people as usual became rich So that brings us to Utopia Avenue made up of Jasper de Zost on guitar Elf Holloway on the keyboard Dean Moss on the bass and Peter “Griff” Griffin on the drums The first three are also writers and so they have that special Beatles mixture of talent that gives them an edge over other bands With that many writers in a band putting together material for an album or three is not that difficult For me the only real bands are those that write their own material not that I can’t enjoy the performances of bands who buy their songs but I love it when I know a song was written by the people performing it So I’m already rooting for Utopia Avenue from the early pages of the novel As the reader I am a roadie and love helping them from the comfort of my reading armchair lug their euipment around to various venues as they try to find their sound They are lucky and find a decent agent reasonably honest who is there to wipe their noses book their gigs make sure they show up on time and mother them through the process of reaching stardom Success is an addictive drug and listening to crowds start to sing your words back at you and scream for songs the moment your set ends is like mainlining heroin or for some a brilliant LSD trip No one is affected by burgeoning success than Dean Moss He in many ways has the least He is estranged from his family and camping out on this bloke’s couch or this chap’s hard piece of floor He owns nothing but his bass and the songs in his head He finds amazing girlfriends but then can’t resist the occasional one night stand with a fan on the road He gets caught every time mainly because nothing about his life is private any There are eyes watching him all the time Despite his faults or maybe because of them I actually like Dean the best There is something naive and honest about him despite his sexual indiscretions that I if I were his friend would do my best to keep him from tripping over his own dick He needs some direction in a directionless world We have Elf Holloway who is struggling with her personal life not because of Deanesue problems but because she seems attracted to the wrong people or the wrong people are attracted to her She brings a folksie blend to the band that has a lot to do with the uniue sound they produce which sets them apart from other bands These are early days for girls to be in rock and roll bands but it doesn’t take long for producers and managers to understand that the public likes seeing girls on stage Imagine that Her boyfriend Bruce tries to interject himself into the band politics like an Australian Yoko Ono but it doesn’t work The band has formed its own cosmos and outsiders need to stay on the other side of the glass Jasper de Zost is a brilliant musician on a different level than anyone else There is money in his family but that life exists in a parallel non intersecting universe Music is everything He is in a crucial battle with his own brain An invader he calls Knock Knock a demon type creature is trying to take over his brain The drugs that keep the creature contained are also dangerous for Jasper’s future health He needs time to get all this music out of his head before the demon takes control Not much was known about mental health in the 1960s and trying to explain his condition to someone would be like trying to make them believe he is really a Martian Drummers always seem to take a backseat in bands They are generally at the back of the stage and rarely a fan favorite Griff has a good sense of humor about that most of the time though he can become hilariously acerbic When he is in a car accident the band immediately sees the problem with using another drummer The timing is all off and that special sauce that makes Utopia Avenue different from other bands is missing too many ingredients The real people populating this book from Mick Farren to David Bowie to Janis Joplin and the ongoing hunt for John Lennon at every party certainly add extra layers of enjoyment for me I love this description of Jimi Hendricks ”’We taught ourselves sitting down in rooms Jimi’s a street guitarist Plays with his whole body Calves waist hips’ ‘Balls ass and cock’ adds Pigpen ‘He’s the first black cat who white women y’know forthed for I’ve never seen anything like it They kindadripped lust’”So what David Mitchell does in this book is make me like all the band members I may have my favorite but I find myself worrying over each of them as if they are my own bundle of musically talented friends This book will always be remembered by me as the book I read while waiting through my father’s heart valve replacement surgery Elf Jasper Dean and Griff kept me company in the corner of the waiting room while I waited for the eventual news of a successful surgery There is always a book close to my hand so anything that happens in my life becomes attached to the book I’m reading at the time My memories of book plots and the ongoing plots of my life fuse into one interconnected memory This book is forever a part of the happy news I received in the Heart Institute in Lincoln Nebraska If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at and an Instagram account


  9. Nat K Nat K says:

    'I hear knocking Don't you?' 'Knocking? What's knocking?' 'Opportunity' ”You'll smell the patchouli and the rainI should say upfront that it probably helps if you have a keen interest in music and 1960s music at that to get the most from this story As well as enjoying the vibe fashion and thoughts of that period But how could you not? If that’s your thing you’re off to a flying start And if you’re not this will make you a new devoteeThis novel is sectioned into three parts which are three albums with each chapter being a song title It’s a clever setup The chapters are vignettes which tell the story of one of the four musician’s lives Via flashbacks which segue to current time we find out how four strangers become the new über group Utopia Avenue “The musical chemistry was good for four strangers” “It’s a whole album of goddamn masterpieces”This isn’t just a story about an unknown band who went from playing in uni bars to drunken students to rabid fans in sold out music venues in Italy and New York It goes deeper We learn about Elf Dean Jasper and Griff as individuals What makes them tick Their hopes and dreams And we meet their families too which goes a long way to forming the people they areOf course this book features the A Z of fabulousness from the late 1960s Cameos from real life musicians and people in music and show biz abound It’s like a “who’s who” of amazement I had an absolute blast reading about them all and loved how they were incorporated into the story David Bowie already fabulous Brian Jones ”appears in a cape beads and gold” Syd Barrett off the planet Keith Moon not far behind John Lennon looking for his mind under a table “Lenny” Cohen oh you smooth operator Janis Joplin telling it like it is sistersigggghhhh Patsy and Eddy would be beside themselvesWe see them in their brilliant otherness At parties revealing utter truths while talking in riddles Wine champagne and a smorgasbord of chemical and herbal substances help the party along Even royalty is spotted ”Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon pass by” I revelled in these snippets as they were just so gloriously over the top and fabulous Just like the times they were set inEven the infamous people don’t die in Chelsea Hotel gets a look in ” ‘Syd’s here? There’s too many famous people at this party It’s bloody ridiculous Just bumped in Hendrix coming out o’ the bog’ ”The excesses the obseuious nature of “making it” the rip offs the drink the drugs the groupies the sex It’s all hereLet’s meet the band “uestion What do you get if you cross an Angry Young Bassist a folk scene doyenne a Stratocaster demigod and a jazz drummer? Answer Utopia Avenue a band like no other”ELF Elizabeth Frances Holloway keyboardist folksinger backing vocalistThe token female in the group Struggling to have her musicianship and opinions taken seriously She's a folk singer in her own right Elf has an off againon again relationship outside of the group and is trying to figure out her sexuality and how to define herself as a modern woman in a changing world Having eual value and voice to the men in the band To make her mark musically and be accepted as a musician in her own right You have to remember this was a time when once a woman was married she gave up work Watch Watch how everyone reacts to one of my ideas compared to an idea from a guy Watch and learn” Phobias are irrationalthat’s the point” But you should know patriarchy is a stitch up ’If I had three wishes’ says Elf ‘I’d let you have one’DEAN Dean MossMoffatt vocals the bass playerDean is my favourite character I had a soft spot for him as his chapters ripped my heart to shreds The honest rawness Living in the shadow of an alcoholic father his upbringing was tough His chapters impacted me the most Dean carries around a chip on his shoulder and has an inner sadness which he hides under a front of bravado Despite it all he’s a gem “Yer should always look a gift horse in its mouth They’re never gifts” “Time’s a fire extinguisher” Yer can’t wish your life away Can yer?’JASPER Jasper de Zoet guitar god and prodigyJasper is undoubtedly a complex character And a very troubled one He is fabulously and naturally artistic He doesn’t view the world the same way that the ‘normals’ do But as my good friend Collin who I buddy read this with observed ”Genius is only inches away from madness” That is so true And describes the plight of Jasper’s being perfectly He suffers His mental battles are such a major part of the story They were as eually fascinating to read as they were painful and harrowing I loved the esoteric uestions thrown up around Jasper’s character that went off to another realm All of the imponderable “What ifs” “ ‘I don’t know if it’s demonic possession or madness or a brain tumour’ said Jasper ‘but this is killing me’ ” “Why do you want to destroy me?’”I loved seeing the world through Jasper’s eyes Hands down the best observations about society life and art come from him He has a keen eye a razor sharp mind and an unfailing inability to tell anything other than what is on his mind This is one deep thinker who feels too much “A person is a thing who leaves” “Generations pass Aesthetiues evolveWhy is this fact a threat?” “Why stick labels on the moon? It's Art “The reality isn't at all like the fantasy” 'Overnight success' says Jasper 'takes a few years' ”GRIFF Peter Griffin the drummerGriff’s a northern lad who’s a rough diamond What you see is what you get No pretensions here Just good solid drumming And no bullsht friendship He calls it as he sees it “Groupies are groupies They want a pop star They don't want me” The musician's life isn't what it's cracked up to be from the outside ” We've all got a sob story but we don't all act like bolshy pricksThere are references made to the cultural and civic unrest in the late 1960s such as the Vietnam war the air of change with demonstrations and peace protests The Summer of Love slowly grinding to a halt It’s an interesting mix of how music fed off cultural events and how creativity was fuelled by world eventsI had a few niggles that I couldn't let go through to the keeper so am shaving off half a star There were some sexual comments and jokes which just fell flat for me And there was a throwaway line about Nick Drake which annoyed me But other than that WOWThe ending left me devastated Even as I was reading it as though in slow motion my mind was crying out “Nooooooo” I could see what was happening but didn't want it to It left me feeling uite wrung out and emotional Not how I imagined it would end at all I thought it would be the atypical crash and burn hot mess of stardom But this took me for a six Could it have ended any other way? I don’t know Another book with a dare I say it perfect endingOverall this book is mind blowing It is an absolute mega universe It’s huge a veritable tome But you won’t notice the amount of pages at all The story is as busy and dynamic as the psychedelic cover It captures a moment David Mitchell hits the brief by bottling the essence of a specific brief burning time that will never occur again45⭐full to bursting stars It would be totes amazeballs to read this while listening to an accompanying soundtrack incense burning under the light of a lava lamp “If we could read the script of the future we'd never turn the page” Please have a look at Kyle's sensational review I read it many months ago before this book had been released Wow I just knew I'd have to read Utopia Avenue And a very loud shout out to Collin who I buddy read this with He always picks the best books to share with me To challenge me Another winner Gold Make sure you have a look at his thoughts as he's a David Mitchell aficionado from way back “Should music mirror change? Should music try to trigger change? Can it?”There’s a great interview with David Mitchell and ABC radio's gorgeous Indira Naidoo the link is below It’s a fabulous insight into the creative process David chats about music and its influence on society Particularly in the 1960s when music was pivotal in documenting the thoughts and feelings of cultural and societal change Those “glimpses of utopia”httpswwwabcnetauradioprograms


  10. Peter Boyle Peter Boyle says:

    A couple of years ago I attended an event in Dublin where two authors chose a treasured album and talked about its effect on their lives One of them was David Mitchell and he selected Blue by his namesake Joni He spoke passionately about his admiration for this record dissecting its lyrics and rhapsodizing about his favourite tracks Mitchell's deep knowledge and love of music shone through so when he mentioned that his next book was about a British rock group set in 1967 it shot instantly to the top of my most wanted listUtopia Avenue is the fictional band in uestion handpicked by Levon Frankland a Canadian manager living in London Dean Moss is the first recruit a handsome bass player down on his luck when destiny calls The enigmatic Jasper de Zoet becomes the lead guitarist a genius who is haunted by his own unusual demons Elf Holloway brings a folk element to the band a gifted songwriter coming to terms with her sexuality Drummer Griff rounds out the group a no nonsense Northerner with valuable experience from the jazz circuit The uartet gel straightaway and the songs come together uite easily such is their musical prowess We follow the band as they play some dodgy gigs get to hear their singles on the radio and appear on Top of the Pops before trying to make it in America Success does not come without a cost however Mental breakdowns prison and much worse feature in their journey to becoming one of the most popular rock groups of the late 60sOne of the things I enjoyed most about this story were the cameos from real life rock stars David Bowie Janis Joplin and even John Lennon make memorable appearances among many They never outstay their welcome showing up for a page or two at most but they feel very true to their real life persona bringing elements of colour and authenticity to the saga of a band that of course never existedI also liked the way the band members talk about the challenges of songwriting and I suppose Mitchell can euate it with his own trials in creating fiction For Jasper it can be exasperating at times Writing is a forest of faint paths dead ends hidden paths unresolved chords words that won't rhyme You can be lost in there for hours Days even People often ask him where he gets the ideas for his lyrics and it's not as magical as one would expect In fact it's difficult for him to describe the process without putting them to sleep It’s hard to talk about writing I get my words from the same place where you get yours the language that calls itself “English” What catches your eye or ear are the combinations I put those words into Ideas float in like seeds from the world from art from dreams Or they just occur to me I don’t know how or why Then I’ll have a line which I try to massage so it scans into the rhythm of the whole I have to consider rhyme too Am I choosing an easily rhyme able last word? Is it too easy to rhyme? Cliché that way lies Never rhyme “fire” with “desire” Or “hold me tight” with “tonight” If it’s too artful it sounds contrived “Pepsi Cola” and “Angola” One or two reviews I came across in the media dismissed this novel as boring For me it was anything but Maybe it helps to have an interest in rock to get the most out of it And it could be said that the journey of Utopia Avenue is rather predictable but isn't its aim to reflect the path of a typical band during this seminal period of popular music? In any case I thoroughly enjoyed it With a cast of likable unforgettable characters Utopia Avenue captures the impact music can have on a life and spirit of the swinging sixties in a joyous vibrant way


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