A dozen long years before “Losering” was published, I put out my first book, a self-published novel called “Off The Record.” Despite the vanity-press taint, it actually out-performed the Ryan Adams book in terms of mainstream-press response. It picked up reviews in some big newspapers (Hartford Courant, Los Angeles Daily News) and even made Greil Marcus’ “Real Life Rock Top 10” column one week (props from one of the grand old men of rock criticism, and still very possibly the highlight of my writing career). These and other greatest hits from that book can be found at the “Off The Record” link above.
Then in May 2013, another “Off The Record” review unexpectedly and belatedly turned up — close to 13 years after that book’s original publication date. Not bad, even if it was somewhat mixed, and I figured that was surely the last review it would ever get; wrong! The Blotter, a publication billed as “The South’s free, unique international literature and arts magazine,” was kind enough to review “Off The Record” as one of its “Books You Should Have Read” in the August 2015 issue.
The review is penned by Blotter Publisher/President/Treasurer Martin K. Smith, whose recent novel “All Tomorrow’s Parties” is also set in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill music scene. That got him to wondering about similar books out there, and mine was the only other one that turned up (on the recommendation of Ross Grady). So he wrote a very nice review that takes up a good four-page spread in the magazine. It starts on page 4 here, and below is the closing paragraph:
I’ve only skimmed the surface of all the good stuff in here. You’ll read of corporate skullduggery, insurance fraud, faked CD barcodes, sinister drug dealers, gunplay (funny how those two go together, isn’t it?); self-satisfied sexists deflated; S&M, concert riots, junkies doing faceplants into various restaurant meals, and more. When I’d finished it, after two evenings of binge-reading, I wanted to raise my lighter to it in proper rock & roll appreciation, until my husband reminded me that it was a library copy. Does it compete with my novel? Not at all. They’re two different tales, with one subject in common: a devotion to live local music. “All Tomorrow’s Parties” is an outsider/fanboy’s view, from out in the audience. “Off The Record” takes long experience from onstage and backstage, from touring van and rehearsal space and record-industry offices, and from all the human crap that can happen there, and puts it on the record. [Translation: I’m still jealous.]
I am honored and humbled, sir.