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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pistonhead More Than Hot Rock 'n' Roll

Pistonheadby Thomas A. Hauck
Fiction
Published by something.hot communications
Publication date: February 1, 2009
Paperback: $12.95, 174 pages
ISBN: 978-1-60145-744-8


Sometimes you cannot judge a book by its cover. At first glance, Pistonhead appears to be yet another entry into the tedious and predictable genre of rock ‘n roll debauchery tell-all category, where the protagonist struggles to become a star, takes too many drugs, divorces his wife, and ends up older and wiser and very rich.

This concise novel, which you can read in one afternoon, chronicles two weeks in the life of Charlie Sinclair, an aspiring Boston rock musician who would not know a limousine if it ran him down in the street. He is one of the hundreds of thousands of struggling artists in America, the ones who still work day jobs and live in mice-infested apartments and eat cold cereal for breakfast before going off to a factory job at eight in the morning.

Pistonhead covers a lot of ground in its refreshingly slender format. The characters are front and center. We meet Charlie’s drug-addled lead singer, Rip; the band’s hapless manager Louie; the cynical concert promoter; the lusty ex-girlfriend; the lustier art student who is making an artsy sex video; the nun who tries to recruit Charlie to sing for her Sunday school class; and Lisa, his enigmatic love interest. The scenes with the Mass Rehab clients in the factory are poignant and occasionally horrifying, as when Roger confides to Charlie that Satan has taken over the body of one of his co-workers.

What ties the novel together is theme of success, and how we define it. When the book opens we assume that Charlie defines success by the usual criteria of the number of patrons crammed into the Big Ditch Club or the number of radio stations playing Pistonhead songs. But a tragedy forces Charlie to take stock of his life and he comes to understand what is most important to him—and it’s not necessarily how many CDs the band can sell.

Pistonhead is an American journey that encompasses, in a concise package, themes that resonate with the flow of our culture as we enter the twenty-first century. Because in the end Charlie makes do with much less, but in many ways his life has become richer, with greater possibilities than before.


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