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4.5 6
by Thomas A. Hauck
Charlie Sinclair plays guitar in a rock band. He works on an assembly line. His best friend is a drug addict. PISTONHEAD is the story of one week in Charlie Sinclair's life - a week that changed him forever.


Charlie Sinclair plays guitar in a rock band. He works on an assembly line. His best friend is a drug addict. PISTONHEAD is the story of one week in Charlie Sinclair's life - a week that changed him forever.

Editorial Reviews

Gloucester Daily Times
The story is about a week in the life of Charlie Sinclair as he juggles his day job as a factory worker and his night job as a guitarist. He deals with the heavy drug use of a band mate and a poor living situation, and ?nally comes upon a tragedy that forces him into a life-changing decision.
"I think 'Pistonhead' is very succinct and doesn't waste your time and doesn't bore you," Hauck said. "I spent the last couple years re?ning it and cutting out some stuff. There's no ?ller."
Don't expect "Pistonhead" to be the end of Hauck's literary work either. He's already ?nished a book of short stories and poems that is going to come out later this summer, a horror novel about a vampire evangelist and a spy novel about a secret agent who does battle with an international crime ring - sort of like an American James Bond, he said.
All of those are "in the can," he said, waiting for the right time to be published through Hauck's own service, Something.Hot Communications in Gloucester. In the meantime, he said he's happy to see "Pistonhead" out there, even if it doesn't make a splash on the New York Times' best-seller list.
"I have zero expectations," he said. "I put it out there, I promote it as best I can and I'm happy to do that, but I'm not doing it for the money.
"Whatever happens, happens," he said. "If ?ve years from now or 10 years from now, the book still has people buying it now and then, then I'll feel like I have succeeded."
—Cameron Kittle
The Noise: Rock Around Boston
As a novel, Pistonhead is an odd duck. It's not a strictly literary work (but who would want that, anyway?). It's not an exploitative genre exercise (which would be of no lasting, or of barely even more than ephemeral, value). Rather, it's cross between a journalistic expose of Entertainment Babylon and a quasi-documentary account of a rock 'n' roll musician-one with a great many very thinly disguised music business and local color flourishes. I read it in one sitting. It was that kind of book.
—Francis DiMenno

Product Details

Booklocker.com, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
0.38(w) x 8.50(h) x 5.50(d)

Read an Excerpt


CHARLIE SINCLAIR'S WATCH READ HALF-PAST MIDNIGHT. He unplugged the digital tuner from his Gibson Les Paul and put the guitar on its stand. A year earlier he had bought the guitar for a thousand dollars. The price was equal to two weeks wages at his day job at Evergreen Software but Charlie believed that a good instrument sounded and played better than an ordinary one and was worth the investment. Charlie wiped the mahogany neck with a towel and put the towel in the guitar case.

He scanned the dressing room of the Big Ditch Club. The cramped space was jammed with clothes, guitars, electric basses, and a sagging plaid sofa. On a greasy flea market table were half-eaten sandwiches on paper plates and a pitcher of flat beer.

Sitting on a metal folding chair, Matt Langston absent-mindedly tapped his drumsticks on the table. He was always a sharp dresser and tonight he was wearing a pair of narrow rectangular sunglasses, a collarless white linen shirt, and black jeans. At the age of twenty-six his hair was thinning on top, and he had recently cut it short with a flat top in front.

In one corner of the room stood a large black road case on wheels. PISTONHEAD was spray-painted in white stencil letters across the side. Standing with an electronic tuner propped up on the lid of the case, Fritz Higgins was tuning his white Fender Precision bass guitar. His shoulder-length brown hair framed his broad cheekbones and he paused every few seconds to tuck a stray strand behind one ear.

Charlie was looking for Jack "Rip" Taylor. Three years earlier, when they were both students at Emerson College in Boston, Charlie and Rip had started the band.Together with Matt and Fritz they had worked the club circuit around New England, gotten a few breaks, released two CDs, and built a loyal following. Charlie knew that in the past few months Rip was getting deeper into the drug scene and his need to score had begun to affect the band's professionalism. This was not the first time that Rip had disappeared in the moments before a show. During the past few months Rip needed drugs?cocaine, speed, heroin, anything?before every performance. When Rip needed to score, nothing else mattered. On more than one occasion Rip had abruptly vanished only to reappear an hour later appearing relaxed and acting as if everything was fine.

Tonight, Charlie was worried. Pistonhead was scheduled to be onstage ten minutes ago and the club was crowded with fans.

Charlie stepped over to Matt. "Have you seen Rip? You know we have to keep an eye on him. We can't let him get messed up. We've got a show to do."
Matt shrugged and kept tapping his sticks on the table. "I don't know where he is. Rip does what he wants. I just go with the flow. He'll show up."

Charlie sighed. He decided to go and look for Pistonhead's singer himself. He opened the dressing room door and descended the narrow wooden staircase to the bottom landing. The stairwell walls were painted forest green but the paint was chipped and flaked to reveal successive layers of grey, saffron yellow, light blue, and navy blue. A fluorescent bulb fixture with a yellowed plastic cover was loosely attached to the ceiling, casting a bluish pallor over the narrow space. Graffiti covered the walls and ceiling, most of it undecipherable. The wooden handrail, absurdly placed at a level corresponding to Charlie's knees, moved when he lightly grasped it. From behind the metal door at the bottom of the stairs Charlie could hear and feel the concussive thump of the house sound system.

He reached for the dented brass knob and pushed open the door into the nightclub. The house music hit him like a sledgehammer and he stepped forward into a dark mass of people who were standing, drinking, shouting in each other's ears, waiting for the show. Charlie glanced over to the stage, which was a four-foot high platform covered with tattered red carpet a few feet away to his immediate left. The Untouchables, the night's opening act, had cleared off their gear and were loading out the back door into the parking lot. Pistonhead's equipment was onstage and ready for their show. Dino, the road manager for Pistonhead, was adjusting one of the microphones. Charlie stepped to the side of the stage and motioned to him. The lanky road manager came over and kneeled so that his head was the same height as Charlie's.
"Have you seen Rip?"

"Yeah, a half hour ago," replied Dino. "He was with those two guys. The Dust Twins. I told him to stick around 'cause it was almost show time. They probably went out to the parking lot. I'll go get him."

"Thanks, Dino," shouted Charlie. He turned and looked out over the crowd.

There had been some rough moments during The Untouchables' set when a few guys in front had gotten into a shoving match, but the club bouncers had thrown one guy out and the others had drifted back into the crowd. Before every show Charlie took stock of the audience in order to scope out potential troublemakers, scout for attractive girls, and gauge the crowd's size and energy level. The fans in front were standing around the stage ten or twelve deep, some with their elbows resting on the stage, while a few girls had purses and drinks perched precariously near the edge. Beyond them were the customers seated at tables and chairs, and along the wall to the right was one of the club's two bars. People stood three deep at the brass-railed bar and the four bartenders were working quickly to get everyone served before the set started. Charlie could see their lips move as they leaned in to talk to the customers, but the pounding music from the speaker cabinets two feet from his head made listening, if not thinking, impossible.

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Pistonhead 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Susan128 More than 1 year ago
Pistonhead is not what I expected. This gritty, touching, funny, poignant novel talks about what it means to be successful. It also delves into the nature of creativity through the deft comparison of the assembly line and Charlie's activities as a songwriter. Definitely recommended for everyone who is looking for a good personal journey story.
EddieO More than 1 year ago
At last a rock novel that tells it like it is! Here is the story of a guy who hasn't made it to the top - no limousines or fancy hotels for Charlie and his Pistonhead bandmates. But he has heart and soul and determination, and even though he faces plenty of obstacles - some funny, some tragic - he keeps plugging away. The characters are real, the onstage scenes will make you feel as though you are in the band, and the factory is something out of Kurt Vonnegut. A great read for anyone from 18 to 80 who wants something more than the usual bland escapist fare.
Kathleen-the-Reader More than 1 year ago
Don't be fooled by the heavy-metal setting. Pistonhead is a funny, scary, gut-wrenching look at the journey made by Charlie Sinclair, a guy who plays guitar in a rock band and works in a factory. There is a theme here - the theme of success and how you define it. Well-written, the story is tight and concise and gritty in its depiction of the life of this semi-loser musician who never seems to quite get a break (until the end, but the break he gets is one that he would have rejected on page one). It's got a sturdy sub-plot about assembly-line jobs leaving America and the fate of the mentally- and emotionally-challenged workers who will be left in the dust. The romance is there too, but handled without being sugar-sweet: Lisa is a tough gal who helps steer Charlie in the right direction. Highly recommended!
VickiLN More than 1 year ago
I really like the main character Charlie, who is in a rock band and works at a factory on an assembly line. He is a very down to earth guy with a hunger for the best life he can have, but is uncertain how to obtain that life. He is facing a lay off from his factory job, his best friend is addicted to drugs and his mother has a new boyfriend. On top of all that, his fans like throwing things at the band. This is the story of one week that will change him forever. What we think we want may not really be what we want, and sometimes our happiness comes from places we never expect. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read about a guitar player who is not your typical rocker. In the end, Charlie is successful, but not the way he expected.
BloodyBad More than 1 year ago
When I first came across this book I was hesitant to read it. A rock n' roll book, with a male main character, just did not appeal to me. By the time I read the guest post Mr. Hauck wrote for my blog, I knew I had read the book. The original synopsis does not do this book justice. Charlie is in a rock band. They have had some semblance of local success. But this book is so much more than playing gigs, doing drugs and banging groupies. It is about life, humanity and how one measures success. Do you really need the six figure paycheck to be successful? Charlie is a down to earth character with a good head on his shoulders. This book tells the story of one dramatic, life altering week in his life. He has to face his best friend's drug addiction, the possibility of being laid off from his factory job, his mother's new boyfriend and anti-fans who like to throw things at the band. My favorite part of this book was when while Charlie was working at the factory. I liked how he dealt with all the character's there. His patience may just be uncharacteristic of a rock star. Overall this book was enjoyable, although some of the musical references sailed directly over my head.
Frank-Reviewer More than 1 year ago
Pistonhead captures the reality of life for any creative person - musician, actor, artist - who is struggling to "make it." What a riveting cast of characters! The oversexed ex-girlfriend, the smarmy brother-in-law, the hapless lead guitar player of the Viper Crew, the part-time workers on the assembly line, the doomed best-friend-lead-singer, the wacky manager. You will laugh and cry and never look at rock musicians the same way again. It's a slice of life that most of us never see - and teaches us that we need to be careful about what we wish for.