Friday, May 16, 2008

The Rock Star's Homecoming

The Rock Star's Homecoming
by Linda Gould
(iUniverse / 978-0-595-46283-4 / 0-595-46283-9 / December 2007 / 260 pages / $16.95)

Let me begin by saying that Linda Gould is one of my favorite of the authors featured on this site. She is the exact sort of author that I seek out to feature and display. I knew after reading her first book, Secretarial Wars, that the error count would be exceptionally low and trivial in nature. I knew that the language might be literary enough to send me to the dictionary, but never stilted or boring. I expected the editing to be taut, the characters and plotline fully developed, and the overall presentation of the product to be professional. I was not at all disappointed.

The basic plotline of The Rock Star's Homecoming reminds me of the silly, early-'60's movie, Bye Bye Birdie, but the similarity quickly ends as the reader delves into the '80's-modern reality of this story about a group of coeds in Clemens Dorm. The story is mostly told from the prospectives of Imogene and her roommate Sara Murphy, who is the little sister of legendary rocker Jake Murphy. Imogene wants to write her thesis on the political psychodrama and literary merit of Jake's band, Sunburst, who played in the dormitories at Glendary College back in 1973. Sara has promised the campus administration that she can reunite a splintered group of uncontrollable egos to play for the Homecoming Dance. Most of the action takes place among the girls in Clemens Hall as they act out their fantasies toward the band members and the current football team while trying to retain control of their deeply internalized jealousies toward each other. Sunburst has spent the intervening years between their campus shenanigans and the present time developing their sound, creating a studio, and generally becoming a very famous group of musicians in New York City. The only portion of the story not set in the small college town is the timeframe in which Sara and Imogene travel to NYC to round up the errant musicians.

I must confess that the storyline of Linda Gould's second novel is right up my alley, even if it is a bit of chicklit for the most part. I grew up on the campus of a small, isolated college town, and I was a rock concert promoter in that locale for a while in the early '70's, so I am not only familiar with the territory, but I enjoyed wallowing in the nostalgia of it all, too. I also must confess that I have a weak spot for most of the Elvis and beach movies of the '60's, too, including Bye Bye Birdie. Some readers may not get quite the buzz I do from reading this book for precisely these reasons; however, I still commend Ms. Gould highly for the professionalism of her product, regardless of the obvious nostalgia factor.

Each chapter is introduced with approximately one page of mental rumination by one of the key characters in the story. The author deliberately lets the reader figure out exactly who is doing the thinking during each of these chapter openings, without once mentioning the character's name. I found this little conceit to be both clever and entertaining, and I never once had any difficulty identifying each character. Linda has told me that she based the turbulent interactions of the two lead members of Starburst on Lennon and Dylan. I cannot say that I had exactly that imagery as I read the story, but those two idols are close enough, especially since I have yet to think of a more accurate alternative. The Rock Star's Homecoming is a dose of chicklit with its cadre of young coeds leading the parade, but there is enough period nostalgia to take the storyline somewhat beyond that point. Linda Gould's second novel is clearly one of the best books I have reviewed for this site.

See Also: The B&N Review
Interview with the Author
The Author's Den Review

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