Sound on Sound

Sound on Sound

by Christopher Sorrentino
     
 

This inventive first novel deflates the same myths of rock and roll that it glorifies in a vivid exploration of pop culture and the shattered society that emerged from the 1980s.

Hi-Fi, a third-rate New York bar band, plays another in a desultory series of low-paying gigs as Reagan's inaugural speech drones from a TV in the background. Equipment falters, band

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Overview

This inventive first novel deflates the same myths of rock and roll that it glorifies in a vivid exploration of pop culture and the shattered society that emerged from the 1980s.

Hi-Fi, a third-rate New York bar band, plays another in a desultory series of low-paying gigs as Reagan's inaugural speech drones from a TV in the background. Equipment falters, band members flex their egos, and the regular crowd shifts from boredom to borderline violence. What begins as an inauspicious account of a typical evening at a nightclub soon gives way to a stupefying catalog of trivia about Hi-Fi, the band with the "suburb sound and the suburb feel."

Dalkey Archive Press

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Flawlessly executed.... funny, perceptive and dead-on the satirical mark." --Publishers Weekly

Dalkey Archive Press

"Living proof that literary genes can be passed from father to son." --Michael Perkins

Dalkey Archive Press

"Sorrentino has used the rock book format (and his superbly pompous 'multitrack' device) as a vehicle for a brilliant and complex novel about remembered truths and modern ennui.... The close of 'Foundation' has a crisp, cinematic grace, and the final 'Playback' crumbles the book's carefully wrought tension with delicious resolve." --Los Angeles Reader

Dalkey Archive Press

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this ambitious first novel, which is structured as a multilayered recording session, the concept behind the plot is flawed, but the story is flawlessly executed. Hi-Fi is a not-yet-famous rock band playing a fateful gig at a seedy New York bar called Cheaters on the night of Ronald Reagan's first inauguration in 1981. From the safety of the '90s, hack writer and Hi-Fi aficionado Paul Marzio attempts to puzzle out the events of that evening, after which Hi-Fi rose to a possibly tainted prominence. The first iteration of ``what happened'' is given without dialogue or judicious description, as if it were the rhythm track. The conceit is nice, but the actual execution of it makes the first 25 pages of the book, which read like a screenplay synopsis, drab and uninteresting. Luckily, the section is followed by a series ``overdubs,'' which include: a list of items numbered like exhibits at a trial; a ``solo'' by our author, Paul; and the conflicting accounts of various Hi-Fi hangers-on and former girlfriends, who attended Cheaters that evening. In the final section, Marzio conducts interviews with the now-famous bandmembers, but nothing produces a clear solution to the narrative puzzle. Sorrentino gets away with a lot through sheer virtuosity. After the slow first layer, he completes the formal exercise he's set for himself with great vigor, and his writing, when he paints a scene, is funny, perceptive and dead-on the satirical mark. (May)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781564780737
Publisher:
Dalkey Archive Press
Publication date:
05/28/1995
Series:
American Literature (Dalkey Archive) Series
Pages:
210
Product dimensions:
5.75(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.91(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Christopher Sorrentino (born May 20, 1963) is an American novelist and short story writer of Puerto Rican descent. He is the son of novelist Gilbert Sorrentino and Victoria Ortiz. His first published novel, Sound on Sound (1995), draws upon innovations pioneered in the work of his father, but also contains echoes of many other modernist and postmodernist writers. The book is structured according to the format of a multitrack recording session, with corresponding section titles ("Secondary Percussion", "Vocals", "Playback", and so forth).

His second novel, Trance (2005), an epic fictional treatment of the Patty Hearst saga, used many of the same experimental techniques as Sound on Sound, but, according to Sorrentino, incorporated them more carefully and subtly into the text. The book was widely praised for its lush descriptions, riveting characterizations and dialogue, imaginative departures, and attention to period detail. Trance ended up on several reviewers' "best" lists, was named a finalist for the 2005 National Book Award for Fiction, and was longlisted for the 2007 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 2009, Trance was named one of the "61 Essential Postmodern Reads" by the Los Angeles Times.

Dalkey Archive Press

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Brief Biography

Hometown:
Brooklyn, New York
Date of Birth:
May 20, 1963
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Education:
Attended Hunter College

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