#170060  by nopunin10dead
 
I just read the novel Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell. I first read his fiction after seeing Cloud Atlas, directed by the Wachowskis (The Martix series). Both the book and film explore themes of alternate realities, a kind of reincarnation, past and future societies.... I think his writing style is excellent.

Utopia Avenue, published in 2020, tells the story of the eponymous British band trying to succeed during the heady days of 1967–68. One conceit of the book is that musicians of that era/scene appear at parties, clubs, concerts, etc. So, we hear talk from Brian Jones, Lennon, Hendrix, Steve Marriott, Bowie; Leonard Cohen, Janis, Zappa ....

Later in the story, the band is touring the U.S. They play San Francisco in October '68, and a chunk of time depicts them visiting the Grateful Dead at 710 Ashbury, and one Utopia Avenue bandmember takes acid with Jerry. They trip, walk, and talk through Golden Gate Park, etc. This is where I struggled with the conceit: knowing that, in real life, The Dead were long gone from 710 by then. Jerry and MG moved out shortly after the Oct. '67 bust, a year earlier. The rest of the band, except Pigpen, had migrated to Marin County by June of '68.

The scene with Jerry is fairly satisfying, but I'd say it doesn't sound quite like him. In turn, I wonder how close many of the other star appearances in the novel are to the talk of the actual people.

Nonetheless, the writing is uniformly excellent and kept me turning the pages and reaching for the book again until I finished. It's also a good look at the predations of the music business. Note that all the famous musicians who appear in the book and speak dialogue have been dead for a long while. Those that are still alive don't get words put in their mouth. Three and a half stars.
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 #170069  by ssmug
 
For the most part I liked the book and the story, but the cameos were sufficiently ham-handed and over-the-top to essentially ruin the book for me. I thought Jerry portion was particularly bad.
 #170075  by ssmug
 
It's a shame, because I really enjoyed it otherwise.

I highly recommend "Daisy Jones and the Six" for a similar, but more straightforward book.

I find it amazing that in both of these books the authors put together song lyrics that are really, really good.