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Time Won't Let Me: A Novel [NOOK Book]


The five members of the Truants –– Richie, John, Brian, Jerry and Tim –– graduated from toney Chase Academy in New Hampshire 30 years ago. Before they left, they managed to record an album called "Out of Site." Nearing the age of 50, they learn that a German record collector has paid $10,000 for one copy of their work.

At the urging of Dino Paradise, a grossly overweight and overly avid fan, the Truants aim to reunite and cash in. But miles from the horizon of youth, weighed ...

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Time Won't Let Me: A Novel

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The five members of the Truants –– Richie, John, Brian, Jerry and Tim –– graduated from toney Chase Academy in New Hampshire 30 years ago. Before they left, they managed to record an album called "Out of Site." Nearing the age of 50, they learn that a German record collector has paid $10,000 for one copy of their work.

At the urging of Dino Paradise, a grossly overweight and overly avid fan, the Truants aim to reunite and cash in. But miles from the horizon of youth, weighed down by bad marriages and mortgaged ambitions, they will have to get out of their own way to get back together. Richie, a divorce lawyer, will have to tear himself away from seducing clients with his karaoke skills. John, a dermatologist, needs to escape all the would–be patients who drop their pants at parties to ask for his advice. Tim must convince his wife to accept his drum set, which he keeps hidden in the attic the way most guys hide porn. Brian will have to step away from the thesis he's been barely trying to complete for 25 years. And all four will have to track down Jerry, a degenerate gambler/Equal addict who was last seen flying to the Caymans for his bookie with $1 million in cash taped to his body.

And that's not to mention the delusional sister, the anatomically–blessed baker, a couple of vengeful spouses, Les Paul, and former J. Geils lead singer Peter Wolf.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Author of the Sports Illustrated column "The Show" and a former Late Show with David Letterman writer, Scheft (The Ringer) returns to fiction with a laugh-out-loud story of aging rock stars reclaiming their musical ids. After their whimsical anthems took their classmate at Chase Academy by storm in the late '60s, the Truants, a Kinks-style garage band, made a record, disbanded and faded into musical oblivion, becoming an asterisk on the long list of good-but-not-great garage bands. Fast-forward three decades when a German record collector shells out $10,000 for a rare copy of their album, and, to everyone's surprise, their five minutes of fame seem poised for extension. A potential gig at their 30th high school reunion gives Scheft a welcome opportunity to make fun of their lives: John, a dermatologist repulsed by strangers' requests to "look at this" or that skin ailment; Richie, a sleazy divorce lawyer who beds his clients; gay Latin (the language) enthusiast Brian; uxorious drummer Tim; and Jerry, who's addicted to gambling and the sugar substitute Equal. Add a hapless sibling eager to reunite the gang, an expletive-driven record connoisseur, an anatomically blessed baker, a knitted plot of dark humor and daffy scenarios, and a unique jocular style, and this sophomore novel hits all the right notes. (Dec. 1) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This rock-'n'-roll novel about the reunion of a New England garage band has a promising premise, but an off-key execution. Scheft (The Ringer, 2002) has written for David Letterman and for Sports Illustrated (where he contributed a humor column until recently). In his second novel, which borrows its title from the hit by the Outsiders, he mines what is plainly a deep knowledge of and passion for the rock of the '60s, when amateur bands were inspired by the British Invasion to make some musical excitement of their own. Within this era of "one-hit wonders," Scheft's novel concerns a no-hit band named the Truants, who formed in prep school and disbanded when they graduated, but not before investing a few grand in a vanity recording project resulting in a little-heard album. More than three decades later, well after most of the Truants have lost contact with each other, that album has somehow become a prized obscurity, reportedly worth $10,000 to at least one collector. As the Truants regroup to capitalize on their higher profile, the novel loses its rhythm to a bewildering array of subplots, some of which are absurd, few of which are as funny as Scheft likely intended. One of the former musicians is a gambler in way over his head; another is a barely closeted homosexual still working on his doctoral thesis; a third is an oversexed lawyer representing a fourth bandmate in a divorce. A sister of one of the bandmates provides some obligatory romantic complication. Though the novelist plainly has some affection for his characters, the reader doesn't get the chance to develop the same, as the plot jumps from one episode to the next, while enveloping some real Boston musicians, including PeterWolf from the J. Geils Band and Barry Tashian of The Remains. The musical references may strike a responsive chord, but the story of lost youth, midlife crises and rock-'n'-roll redemption can't keep the beat.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062003645
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/9/2010
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • File size: 317 KB

Meet the Author

Bill Scheft

Bill Scheft is the author of The Ringer and The Best of the Show: A Classic Collection of Wit and Wisdom. He spent eleven years as head monologue writer for David Letterman. He lives in New York City.

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Read an Excerpt

Time Won't Let Me

A Novel
By Bill Scheft

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Bill Scheft
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060797088

Chapter One


If you really want to know the truth, the roots were not rock and roll, folk, or skiffle. The roots of the band known as the Truants came from detention. In the little known "Fire Extinguisher Wars" of October 1964, at Chase Academy in South Chase, New Hampshire, only ten sophomores were captured. They were sentenced to four Sundays, nine to twelve, in the Music Room, located in the dankest dankness of the Pershing Memorial Auditorium basement. Why the Music Room when there were plenty of free classrooms for the g-pop miscreants? Detention duties went to the most recent faculty hiree at Chase. And by two days, the job fell to Briggs Wentworth, who had left the nearby Nashua public school system suddenly for what he felt was the noblest of reasons: too many squares.

Briggs Wentworth was mohair jacket/clove cigarette weird enough that when he asked to hold Sunday detention in the Music Room, the dean of faculty just walked away quickly. Six of the ten sophomores served their time in a clock-watching stupor that thawed only in the last two minutes when they loaded themselves into a telepathic starting gate spring-loaded for 11:59.9. That was their only activity in detention: the end of detention.

The other four lingered. Their eyes wandered during the three hours, but purposefully. The charts on the walls. The hiatused instruments. The thicket of akimboed music stands. Independently and at once, the four came to the same conclusion: This was not a place to escape. This was a place to escape to.

Wentworth remained seated while the other six rushed to the door, continuing to write lesson plans, glee-club arrangements, or thumb through Downbeat. He was available for any questions, but the four who stayed around had none. Three of them owned guitars but were afraid to play for anyone. The other had his eye on the four-piece, randomly pummeled black-pearl Rogers drum kit in the corner. After two Sundays of lingering, they agreed to stay an additional hour the next week and try to play the one song the three guitarists knew: "Michael (Row the Boat Ashore)."

Richie Lyman, John Thiel, Tim Schlesinger, and Jerry Fyne were hardly friends. They had fought on opposite sides during the Fire Extinguisher Wars for their respective dorms, Mulvihill (Richie and John) and Grays (Tim and Jerry). Richie and Jerry had shared one intimate prep school moment the previous spring as freshmen when half a dozen juniors dunked their heads in an unflushed toilet for the unpardonable sin of being Jewish.

Tim Schlesinger had been excused from the Freshman Yid Roundup. Medical reasons. The post-knee-surgery cast on his leg made it impossible to kneel commodeward. It was his second operation since football season, when a bad foot plant on worse turf ripped his knee in two directions and his four-year, three-sport career was finished, a destination he had never anticipated. By February, he was begging his parents to humanely yank him out of Chase and let him hobble at North High, where he would be merely a guy on crutches rather than the Jew cripple. An outsider only needs one distinguishing feature. Anything more borders on showy.

Tim's parents told him to finish the year, and he did. On the sidelines. Over the summer, the cast came off and a physical therapist suggested swimming three times a week. Chase had an indoor pool. North High did not. So, he was back the following fall, crutch-less and more than fit enough to clean and jerk a fire extinguisher.

The physical therapist also said the restrengthening process might be sped along by -- and this was only if Tim was interested -- working the pedal on a bass drum a few minutes a day. This suggestion had slipped Tim's mind, but was lassoed the first Sunday he walked into detention.

It helped that they were equally bad. A four-way photo finish of ineptitude. And when one would poke his head in front -- when Thiel picked clean the opening eight for "House of the Rising Sun," or when Jerry ditched his Guild for some cardboard bass that was much easier to play, or when Richie discovered if he screamed himself hoarse at the football game Saturday afternoon he sounded like an Isley brother Sunday morning, or when Tim didn't chase the beat like a bus into town -- the others would aspire to that new touchstone, or risk the consequences: getting shit from the rest. Three months later, they still weren't exactly friends. If they had been, they might still be working on "Michael (Row the Boat Ashore)."

The hour on Sunday quickly became two, then backed up to include two hours Saturday morning and forty minutes Wednesday at noon, when the Chase class schedule was rejiggered to accommodate traveling athletic teams and no attendance was taken at lunch. Jerry Fyne would show up last to the Music Room with a gym bag of bread and peanut butter and half-pints of Hood milk. Nobody complained. Not even when Jerry laced his milk with a sweat-sock-sheathed half-pint of Old Crow. He said it made him play better. One of the few times he wasn't lying.

Once a month, on Saturday night, a hundred or fewer teenage girls were bused into the Chase Academy gym like kilted and cardiganed migrant workers. They came from places with names like Miss Porter's, Miss Hall's, Dana Hall, and -- really, you can check; go ahead -- Beaver Country Day. They came hoping to dance with someone who didn't look like another girl in their dorm or biology class. Preferably someone taller. They called such gatherings "mixers," a term that aspired to euphemism. Mixers. Like club soda or quinine water. Slight difference. Those kind of mixers, uh, worked.

Everyone got one dance, thanks to a "line up against the wall and pair off" boy-girl assembly-line ritual handed down from some ancient Sado-Victorian civilization wiped out after everybody danced once and no one procreated. Following that first dance/run-through, actual participants dropped . . .


Excerpted from Time Won't Let Me by Bill Scheft Copyright © 2005 by Bill Scheft. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 30, 2009

    Even the spoiled must grow up!

    This is almost like two different books. The first half is very funny with a definite smart ass slant. The second half is good but almost too sweet natured for it's own good. There are a lot of good surprises in the story and overall, it is entertaining and a worthwhile read. If it had maintained it's early attitude throughout, I could have given it five stars across the board.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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