Eight Musicians Who've Proved Themselves Damn Fine Authors
Thanks to Frankenstorm, a whole slate of concerts has been wiped out tonight and tomorrow, including this evening's Joshua Radin/A Fine Frenzy gig at Best Buy Theater--it's been rescheduled for Sunday, Nov. 4. As it turns out, Alison Sudol, the brainy beauty behind AFF, is about more than just music, though. Forever literary minded--her songs are steeped in imagery directly inspired by C.S. Lewis, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and others; she also had an online book club going at BuzzFeed for a while--Sudol penned the 119-page e-book The Story of Pines as a companion piece to A Fine Frenzy's new album, Pines (songs from which she would have performed tonight...oh well).
Beautifully illustrated and partially interactive, The Story of Pines spins a simple and sweet tale about a lonely pine tree that uproots itself and goes on a journey of self-discovery. Too precious for your miserable heart? Fine. Thing is, Sudol's hardly the first musician to turn author. And since Frankenstorm probably means no concerts AND no electricity for a couple days, maybe your only entertainment option is to curl up next to the candles with a good book (or e-book). Below are some notable books written by musicians--some decidedly darker than The Story of Pines, some not. We kept it to fictional prose, so no memoirs (sorry, Scott Stapp), no poetry (sorry, Patti Smith), and, though they technically would count, no fucking Jimmy Buffett novels (we're not sorry).
In 2006, Willy Vlautin--frontman of the Portland, Oregon alt-country outfit Richmond Fontaine--released his shattering debut novel, The Motel Life. Channeling the ghosts of Steinbeck and Carver, it's a downcast, affecting tale of a pair of brothers--living in seedy motels, working odd jobs, and drinking themselves into oblivion, they're already existing on the margins--whose lives crumble even further after one of them accidentally runs over a boy on a bicycle. Vlautin's written two more excellent novels since: Northline, about a twentysomething alcoholic waitress searching for a better life than the one she has with her abusive Nazi-skinhead boyfriend, and Lean on Pete, about a homeless teenage boy who befriends a broken down racehorse on his way to find a long-lost aunt. The Motel Life's still our favorite, by a nose. Not exactly a pick-me-up, but well worth picking up.
If Nick Cave's involved, you know there's gonna be sex, violence, sin and salvation, and his darkly hilarious, disturbing, quasi-apocalyptic 2009 novel The Death of Bunny Munro's got all of that in spades. Maybe not much salvation, actually. Bunny Munro's a despicable, misanthropic, sociopathic traveling cosmetics salesman whose over-the-top depravity is easy to hate and love all at once (much like Walter White in last season's Breaking Bad). Bunny drives his depressed wife to suicide by cheating on her with hookers whose "nipples look like the triggers on those mines they floated in the sea to blow up ships in the war." He gleefully cons his customers and happily yanks his nine-year-old son down the road to oblivion. Oh yeah, he's an unrepentant sex addict who, at one point--after listening to a Kylie Minogue song, picturing her in hot pants, passing by a group of "pudgy mall-trawlers with their smirking midriffs and frosted lipstick," and noticing a Wonderbra billboard--pulls the car over "and beats off, a big, happy smile on his face, and dispenses a gout of goo into a cumencrusted sock he keeps under the car seat." Delightful! Added bonus: The novel also features a serial killer with horns who offs his female victims with a pitchfork. Oh Nick, you devil.