Rock Bottom
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Rock Bottom

4.5 2
by Michael Shilling
     
 

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Once, the Blood Orphans had it all: a million-dollar recording contract from Warner Brothers, killer hooks, and cheekbones that could cut glass. Four pretty boys from Los Angeles, they were supposed to be the next big thing, future kings of rock and roll.

But something happened on the way to glory, and now, two years later, along with their coke-fueled,

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Overview

Once, the Blood Orphans had it all: a million-dollar recording contract from Warner Brothers, killer hooks, and cheekbones that could cut glass. Four pretty boys from Los Angeles, they were supposed to be the next big thing, future kings of rock and roll.

But something happened on the way to glory, and now, two years later, along with their coke-fueled, mohawked female manager, they have washed up in Amsterdam for the final show of their doomed and dismal European tour. The singer has become a born-again Buddhist who preaches from the stage, the bass player's raging eczema has turned his hands into a pulpy mess, the drummer is a sex-fiend tormented by the misdeeds of his porn-king father, and the guitar player—the only talented one—is thoroughly cowed by the constant abuse of his bandmates.

As they stumble through their final day together, the Blood Orphans find themselves on a comic tour of frustration, danger, excitement, and just possibly, redemption.

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Editorial Reviews

author of BEFORE HER EYES and SUSPICIOUS RIVER Laura Kasischke
"Michael Shilling's debut is everything one wants in a novel: tragic and thrilling, farcical and realistic. The prose is exuberant in its range and wildness, but also in its little treasures, its unfoldings and depths. Here is a writer who brings characters to life, circumstances to light, and imbues them with resonance, traveling the whole map of human obsession and longing with breathless energy. This is a sexy, funny novel, but with the kind of profundity we need from our best novelists at this time. Michael Shilling is an important new writer, and this is novel you won't forget having read."
author of ASSORTED FIRE EVENTS David Means
"Finally, at last, an ass-kicking, authentic rock & roll novel, one that peels back the veneer and gloss and--with an insider's eye--exposes the lovely, wondrous dirt."
author of LONG FOR THIS WORLD Michael Byers
"ROCK BOTTOM is a raunchy, knowing, brilliant novel - a diamond-sharp, lightning-witted, sex-packed, hilarious account of the last days of a fallen-from-grace hard rock band, marooned in Amsterdam under the crashing ruins of a lost greatness. Shilling, himself a former musician, is our insider guide to the ravages and seductions of the rock-and-roll world, and he describes the sights with a tender, pitch-perfect savagery. But more than this, the novel is a remarkably accomplished piece of art - a complicated survivor's tale, full of hilarious sadness, virtuous cruelty, beautiful destruction, the sort of book you pick up with high expectations and that, to your surprise and delight, surpasses them all, a book funnier, smarter, sadder, and more inventively composed that you could possibly have hoped. It's a hit, I mean - I was laughing all the way through, and singing along."
author of THE WELSH GIRL Peter Ho Davies
"A rock and roll novel at once rocking and rollicking. ROCK BOTTOM knowingly skewers the pretensions of the music business, while never taking them seroiusly, and the result is a simultaneously scabrous yet affectionate portrait of a band and its entourage in the final throes of a tour de farce. Michael Shilling writes with wit, fury and an infectious gusto; it's the kind of high-energy prose that makes a reader want to get up and strut their stuff."
From the Publisher
"ROCK BOTTOM is a raunchy, knowing, brilliant novel - a diamond-sharp, lightning-witted, sex-packed, hilarious account of the last days of a fallen-from-grace hard rock band, marooned in Amsterdam under the crashing ruins of a lost greatness. Shilling, himself a former musician, is our insider guide to the ravages and seductions of the rock-and-roll world, and he describes the sights with a tender, pitch-perfect savagery. But more than this, the novel is a remarkably accomplished piece of art - a complicated survivor's tale, full of hilarious sadness, virtuous cruelty, beautiful destruction, the sort of book you pick up with high expectations and that, to your surprise and delight, surpasses them all, a book funnier, smarter, sadder, and more inventively composed that you could possibly have hoped. It's a hit, I mean - I was laughing all the way through, and singing along."—Michael Byers, author of LONG FOR THIS WORLD"

A rock and roll novel at once rocking and rollicking. ROCK BOTTOM knowingly skewers the pretensions of the music business, while never taking them seroiusly, and the result is a simultaneously scabrous yet affectionate portrait of a band and its entourage in the final throes of a tour de farce. Michael Shilling writes with wit, fury and an infectious gusto; it's the kind of high-energy prose that makes a reader want to get up and strut their stuff."—Peter Ho Davies, author of THE WELSH GIRL"

Michael Shilling's debut is everything one wants in a novel: tragic and thrilling, farcical and realistic. The prose is exuberant in its range and wildness, but also in its little treasures, its unfoldings and depths. Here is a writer who brings characters to life, circumstances to light, and imbues them with resonance, traveling the whole map of human obsession and longing with breathless energy. This is a sexy, funny novel, but with the kind of profundity we need from our best novelists at this time. Michael Shilling is an important new writer, and this is novel you won't forget having read."—Laura Kasischke, author of BEFORE HER EYES and SUSPICIOUS RIVER"

Finally, at last, an ass-kicking, authentic rock & roll novel, one that peels back the veneer and gloss and—with an insider's eye—exposes the lovely, wondrous dirt."—David Means, author of ASSORTED FIRE EVENTS"

[Rock Bottom is] enlivened by characterizations as deep as would seem allowable for such a narcissistic gang and industry, brisk observations about the pitfalls of fame, and often funny banter among the dueling inhabitants of a sinking musical ship."—Publishers Weekly"

Simultaneously bleak and archly funny... With rich characterizations and surprisingly complex back stories, the author gets under the skin of his ragtag brotherhood... A thoughtful snapshot of a crumbling rock 'n' roll fantasy."—Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A veteran of Seattle's rock scene chronicles the darkly comic ups and downs of L.A. foursome Blood Orphans, who've stumbled into Amsterdam to play the last dates of a tour that has gone disastrously wrong. Led by mohawked female manager Joey and male lead singer Darlo, the group had been primed to become the next big thing, but after a rock journalist pegs the band's lyrics as racist, things crumble-a night in jail, a riot, dismal record sales and the band gets dropped as the opener on an Aerosmith tour. Told in retrospective with alternating chapters from Joey's, Darlo's and many other points of view-including eczema-ridden bass player Bobby, drummer and sex addict Shane and nice guy guitar player Adam, who tries to keep the band mates from tearing each other apart-the sometimes predictable Behind the Music retrospective framework is enlivened by characterizations as deep as would seem allowable for such a narcissistic gang and industry, brisk observations about the pitfalls of fame, and often funny banter among the dueling inhabitants of a sinking musical ship. (Jan.)

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Kirkus Reviews
A hard-rocking band that started as a joke ends its run at stardom during a long, bad day in Amsterdam. In his debut novel, Shilling paints a portrait of an imploding band on tour. The book somehow manages to be simultaneously bleak and archly funny. The fictional group, Blood Orphans, was once the next big thing, cooked up over tequila by drummer Darlo Cox and the book's standout character, punk fashionista and band manager Joey Fredericks, "a foul-mouthed fox who could snort coke like an aardvark." Custom designed to send up hair metal, the boys had it all: a contract with Warner Bros., a gig opening for Aerosmith and fans devoted to their riotous concerts. But after Spin magazine labels the band's song "Double Mocha Lattay" unforgivably racist, the bottom quickly falls out. In the middle of their European tour, Joey gets word from the label that the band is being dropped. With rich characterizations and surprisingly complex back stories, the author gets under the skin of his ragtag brotherhood. There's Bobby, the bass guitarist with a case of eczema; sex fiend Darlo, whose damage originates from his porn-manufacturing parents; Adam, the talented guitarist who's far too nice a guy for the debauchery the gig requires; and singer Shane, a self-centered Christian rocker faking his way through Buddhism. Shilling nails the age of A&R excess that existed before iTunes killed the record store and bands gave away albums for free, offering up a biting indictment of celebrity adulation and the Commitments-like heartbreak of the whimpering end of an era. The dismal grind of the road, the backbiting among bandmates and the pitfalls of artificial success should be recognizable to former guitarheroes everywhere. A thoughtful snapshot of a crumbling rock 'n' roll fantasy. Agent: Ayesha Pande/Collins Literary

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316031929
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
01/09/2009
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Michael Shilling is a Lecturer at the University of Michigan, where he received his MFA in Creative Writing. His stories have appeared in The Sun, Fugue, and Other Voices. A recovering rock musician, he played the drums in The Long Winters, as well as numerous other bands in Seattle. Currently, he is working on a novel set in Victorian England.

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