#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.
 #171037  by FromWichita
 
Not fiction, but in 1991 Iron Prostate released a single called "Bring Me the Head of Jerry Garcia". I remember seeing it in a used records store long before I started getting Grateful.

Also, on 8/9/05, the rapper Proof released the album "Searching for Jerry Garcia".

And there was that movie with Mel Gibson, I think "Conspiracy Theory", in which he said the Grateful Dead were somehow an roving US Intelligence asset on an Endless Tour, possibly with the "CIA" comprising Jerry's last name being no coincidence.

Then, there's the sublime Jerry materialization out of the small pouch of his ashes owned by Jim Breuer in "Half Baked" to save the day! That was trippy.

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them." - Ernest Hemingway
 #171038  by FromWichita
 
I just remembered - in David Foster Wallace's masterpiece "Infinite Jest", there is no specific mention of Jerry, but is this excerpt:

"Bertraund had actually been credulous enough with a wrinkled long-haired person of advanced years in a paisley Nehru jacket also of great age and a puzzling cap with a skeleton playing at the violin emblazoned upon it, on the front, wearing also the most stupid-appearing small round wire spectacles with salmon-colored lenses.

Bertraund had been starry-eyed enough to agree to barter the person an antique blue lava-lamp and a lavender- tinged apothecary’s mirror for eighteen unexceptional-looking and old lozenges the long-haired old person had claimed in a jumble of West-Swiss-accented French were 650 mg. of a trop- formidable harmful pharmaceutical no longer available and guaranteed to make one’s most hair-raising psychedelic experience look like a day on the massage-tables of a Basel hot-springs resort, throwing in as well a kitchen-can waste bag filled with crusty old mossy boot-and-leg Read-Only cartridges, sans any labels, that appeared to have been stored in a person’s rear yard and then run through a gaseous dryer of clothes.

Dr. Robert (‘Sixties Bob’) Monroe — the septuagenarian pink-sunglasses-and-Nehru-jacket-wearing N.C.-F.P.F.ergotic-vascular-headache-treatment specialized, a guy who in yore-days interned at Sandoz and was one of T. Leary’s original circle of mayonnaise-jar acid-droppers at T. Leary’s now-legendary house in West Newton MA, and is now (60s B.) an intimate acquaintance of Kite, because Sixties Bob is an even bigger Grateful Dead fanatic maybe even than Kite, and sometimes got together with Kite and several other Dead devotees (most of who now had canes and O2 tanks) and traded historical-souvenir-type tiger’s eyes and paisley doublets and tie-dyes and lava lamps and bandannas and plasma spheres and variegated black-light posters of involuted geometric designs, and argued about which Dead shows and bootlegs of Dead shows were the greatest of all time in different regards, and just basically had a hell of a time. 60s B., an inveterate collector and haggling trader of shit, sometimes took Kite along on little expeditions of eclectic and seedy shops for Dead-related paraphernalia, sometimes even informally fencing stuff for Kite (and so indirectly Gately), covering Kite with $ when Kite’s rigid need-schedule didn’t permit a more formal and time-consuming fence, Sixties Bob then trading the merchandise around various seedy locales for 60s-related shit nobody else’d even usually want."

I cannot recommend any book moreso than Infinite Jest - it's the Great American Novel of our age. It's huge, but so worth it.

“Mary had a little lamb, its fleece electrostatic / And everywhere Mary went, the lights became erratic.” - David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
 #171041  by TI4-1009
 
"Alas, poor Yorick!"