Tag Archives: 1970s

Ken Follett – Edge of Eternity (2014)

EdgeOfEternitySo mixed regarding how I feel about this book. I liked it, but I liked it because I like the history behind it, not because I think Ken Follett is a good writer.

This is the third book in Follett’s trilogy and for me, after the first one, they kind of went downhill. The first book was great, the characters were somewhat original and the idea of tracing five different families through the First World War was compelling and done well. The second book was OK, but I think its harder to write about the Second World War without falling into the same tired clichés and character types.

I heard a rumour that Follett didn’t even want to write this book, and it really showed. He started off strong telling the story of a young Black lawyer on a Freedom Ride through the Southern United States, and his chapter detailing the events of JFK’s assassination was done really well, as you see how every character stationed in different areas around the world reacts to the news. He should have just ended there, but obviously couldn’t, needing to tie up everyone’s stories with the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991.

Following the JFK assassination the book becomes almost unbearable, the dialogue is so banal and so many of the events are just unbelievable. It makes me wonder if Follett himself has ever actually experienced anything! I’ve written before about how I don’t like his female characters as they all come off as very one-dimensional, and this book was no different. The female characters all serve the goals of the men, and none of them have their own interesting storylines.

Despite the fact that I did not love this book, for some reason I still cried during the epilogue when Follett describes the African American family, the family of the Freedom Rider protagonist, sitting around a TV watching was Barak Obama is sworn into office. That’s more about me being a suck though, than Follett’s writing, as overall, the book was not memorable.

Tom Robbins – Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976)

evencowgirlsgetthebluesProbably the most absurd book I’ve read in a while, which speaks volumes about the time that it was written (1976).

The novel follows the life of Sissy Hankshaw, a white trash woman born with enormously large thumbs who considers her mutation to be a gift as it aids with her hitchhiking, her preferred mode of travel. Living as a hitchhiker, Sissy soon becomes a model for The Countess, a male homosexual tycoon of feminine hygiene products. The Countess also owns a ranch, operated by sexually open and promiscuous cowgirls. Through her travels Sissy meets the cowgirls and many other interesting characters including “The Chink,” an escapee from a Japanese internment camp who becomes hailed as a hermetic mystic. Through her travels Sissy explores her own sexuality through her interactions with various characters.

This is definitely a “hippie” novel exploring themes such as free love, drug use, political rebellion, animal rights, feminism, and religion, in a strange yet wonderful way. The chapters are short and are often filled with philosophical diatribes and short quips in which Robbins inserts himself as a character. It’s not really the type of book that I normally enjoy reading, but I had a good time. The movie was considered to be an overwhelming failure, but I think I’d still like to watch it, the trailer looks just as insane as the book was to read.

Pamela Des Barres – I’m With the Band (1987)

ImWithTheBand

From the Rory Gilmore Reading List seen in Season 3 Episode 16 (“The Big One” where Lorelei is reading it sitting on her couch.

Des Barres’ memoirs have often been called the quintessential read for anyone wanting to learn more about the 70s rock scene in LA. It is a good book, written well and honestly, but it tells more about the atmosphere of LA in the 60s and 70s then it does about specific rock stars. This didn’t disappoint me, but anyone reading this looking for behind the scenes stories about their favourite rock stars will not find them here.

Rather the book is about De Barres’ life, from fantasizing about being married to Paul McCartney, to her involvement with the “GTO’S,” a “groupie group” financially backed by Frank Zappa, to her involvement with Jimmy Page, Don Johnson, and Mick Jagger. While some of her relationships ended in heartbreak, De Barres has no regrets. My favourite parts of this book are the playful snipes and jabs she makes towards Robert Plant throughout. It is clear that the two were, and continue to be great friends, and it is fun to imagine Plant’s reaction when reading her writing.

De Barres’ has a follow-up novel, Take Another Little Piece of My Heart: A Groupie Grows Up, and maybe somewhere down the line, I’ll give it a shot.