In just two years of competition, Björn Türoque has achieved recognition that any card-carrying baby boomer can envy: He has become America's second-greatest air guitarist. But for Türoque (pronounced "too-RAWK"), runner-up status is not enough. He craves the fame of ethereal guitarists like Fatima "Rockness Monster" Hoang and David "C Diddy" Jung; perhaps not exactly household names, but bona fide pop icons in the world of "air." In this brisk riff memoir, Björn talks about his career with nonstop exuberance and not one sour note.
Actual musician and New York Times writer Crane created his alter ego, Bjorn Turoque, as part of a heated but unsuccessful attempt to win the 2003 Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland, a yearly competition-usually attended by thousands of fans-to see who can best mime the movements of guitar solos in songs by actual rock gods such as Led Zeppelin and Guns N' Roses. With hilarious detail, Turoque/Crane recounts what became a three-year, nearly full-time immersion into the cutthroat, usually drunken, but always serious world of air guitar competitors, who choreograph detailed 60-second routines of air-jumping, air-fretting, air-power-chording and air-soloing in order to be "transposed from insignificance into supernatural supershredding superheroes." Crane often veers into stoned philosophizing-he sees air guitar as "creating a reality in which the audience can place themselves"-but overall he easily and accurately captures the telling elements of what is uniquely a visual event: one participant is described as looking "as if he's repeatedly trying to pull-start a lawnmower with a great deal of frustration," while another-sporting "a Hello Kitty breastplate fastened to his chest with binder clips" has hands that move "like twin Tasmanian devils." (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Crane's debut memoir recounts three whirlwind years braving the contest circuit of a ritual most people only perform behind locked doors. He began competing in air-guitar competitions in the fall of 2003, just hours after learning about its existence as a sport. (That sort of ironic twist is a typical turn of events for true air guitar heroes, we learn.) Crane's alter ego during "air-time" is Bjorn Turoque, a self-proclaimed nihilist who embodies not only the over-the-top technique and pageantry of the world's premier air guitarists, but who quickly became an ambassador of this newly minted fake rock-'n'-roll lifestyle by appearing on CNN and "Last Call with Carson Daly." Bjorn/Dan drags his readers on the road with him from New York to Los Angeles, constructing a riveting narrative through wry observations parceled out in a light, conversational tone. Despite imbibing heavily before, during and after competition rounds, he seems to recall every detail of conversations in the basements of seedy clubs, the minutiae of each flamboyant costume design, all the salient personality traits of the colorful, engaging characters who comprise his competition (and their rabid groupies). What makes this memoir more enduring than Bjorn's notoriety for finishing as runner-up in competition-a failure that he proudly claims carries even more rock cachet than winning-are the moments in which he pauses to reflect on the pastime as a cultural event. His text is a social critique whose subjects include the air guitarist as a figure of pure passion, musical "talent" as a relative term, the real fame attained by fake artists. The author's analyses are offered ironically, but always have the ring of truth. Anabsurd yet contemplative chronicle that will charm anyone who believes in rocking hard with a guitar-or with nothing at all.