Monday, March 26, 2007

The Drummer

I just finished Anthony Neil Smith's novel, The Drummer, over the weekend. I'm late to this one. Came out last September.

It's the story of Cal Christopher, drummer for the heavy metal band Savage Night, who, after faking his death fourteen years before and living in New Orleans as Merle Johnson, has to deal with his old life again when Savage Night's has-been lead singer, Todd, tracks him down and tries to blackmail him into a reunion tour. The next morning Cal finds Todd slowly kicking off from too much booze with a suicide note spilling "Merle Johnson's" dirty little secret.

Cal's life pretty much goes to shit from there on in.

The writing's tight, the characters are great. Nobody is just painted in broad strokes. From Merle's gay bartender buddy, to the pregnant wife of the stolen car broker, everyone comes alive on the page.

Cal's a geat narcissistic personality. You can see how everything turns to shit all because he doesn't have the balls to just stand up and face life. It's not that he wants to be an asshole, he's just really good at rationalizing his way into it. He's true to himself all the way through to the end.

The pacing works well with the story. Smith pops back and forth from Cal's time in Savage Night to the present day. Giving glimpses of how he and everyone else in the band got here from there. With all the requisite rock cliches, booze, groupies and prima donna power trips, he's taken what could have turned into a VH1 has been story and makes all those things fresh.

If there's anything I had a problem with it was some of the pacing toward the end. I liked the wrap-up but it seemed a little hurried.

Yeah, the worst thing I can say is that I wanted the book to last. Like that's a bad thing.

Many thanks to Patrick Bagley for sending me the copy and Mr. Smith for signing it for me.


Neil said...

No one likes it when moives get dragged out, so I figured it's the same with books. You should be thanking me for the hurrying up.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Oh, I agree. And I thank you for writing a great book. Can you blame me for not wanting it to end?