Monday, February 28, 2011

Rock and roll children by Michael LeFevre


Rock and Roll Children is the first novel from Michael LeFevre Michael D. LeFevre although he has published articles and book reviews in the “Times Education Supplement.” Most of Rock and Roll Children is based on his experiences during the 1980’s. The 80's were certainly the golden era of metal in many people's minds including mine. It was great time to be a fan of the music because there was so much material coming out and many great bands hit their peak during the decade. LeFevre's book follows friends Frankie, Bob, Rick and Jeff through the mid late 80's with an emphasis on their love of many different metal acts of the day. Concerts are a major focus of the story and in the introduction LeFevre states that he attended all but three of the concerts mentioned in the book. So he recalls some personal experiences for those parts of the book. The concerts mentioned are many and include a number of top acts of the day including Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio and many others. I am actually jealous of the author for getting to see so many great acts of the time. Fans of metal who were living for the music back then will be able to relate to being so excited over these bands and the albums that are mentioned as well those who were fortunate enough to hear the Metalshop show on the radio back in the day. However there are some real problems with "Rock and roll children". It's a very slow read because of several reasons. There is some build-up for every concert the friends attend and the first few times this happens I even felt kind excited. Then they get to the concert and it just reads like a bare bones account. These should major events in the book and they tend to lack the kind of description and detail that would build them up. After each concert was mentioned I felt an empty feeling like there just wasn't enough going on. The same empty feeling hangs over the characters ever more so. They are enjoying the music and following these bands, but it's all rather flat with pages and pages of he did this and he did that. I just never felt attached or very interested in the characters. There is no doubt that the author was a fan because his love of the music comes through right away, but the characters and the story just have the depth to sustain one's interest for 400 and some pages. I think if these entries had been written say in a blog form with each concert being an entry and more details had been provided then I may have been far more interested. The author has real memories and hopefully he keeps writing and working at expanding his ideas and developing his style. As it was this was a tough read to get through.

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Blogger tobychainsaw said...

Having read the review on Rock And Roll Children, I feel I need to address the comments made. I have left it several days in order to fully digest the review and not come across as some poor sport who is having a fit over the review. After all I did ask for an honest opinion. Howeevr, there are some points I would like to address.
The concerts mentioned actually took place and I wanted to be as accurate as possible. I didn't want the Hollywood belief of letting historical fact getting in the way of a good story to happen to me. Furthermore, I was afraid of being sued by any artist who would happen to read it. Maybe, I went too far the other way and there is room to use my immagination a little bit. I know better next time.
I fully agree that I could have done more with the main characters. I tried to get the reader to identify with their experiences both good and bad. Older metal heads like me could say, "I remember doing that." I also wanted to highlight the negative experiences as well to gain sympathy for the main characters. Throughout the book, they suffer a lot of intolerancde from the non metal world and I wanted everyone to know this, especially as I went throught it. My speculation is that the reviewer never suffered any of the crap the characters went through in the book. No harassment for the way they looked, being blamed for fights they didn't start or Jesus freaks coming to concerts to condemn them to hell. Saying this, three people have now told me that the Mitch character is the most interesting character in the book. Mitch is the older brother of one of the characters and he served in the ill fated US peacekeeping mission in Lebanon in the early eighties. For the reoord, I am planning to write a prequel based in the Mitch character's experiences in Lebanon.
The strongest part of the book, I'm told, is the account of the Jeff character's year in England. I know this might not interest American readers and I would be lying if I didn't say that part of the reason I included it was to attract British readers. However, there are other reasons: 1. I wanted to counter the argument from British ex Duranies who would argue that heavy metal wasn't that big in Britain. 2. I have found that Britain has always been far more tolerant of metalheads than Americans ever were, at least in South Jersey.
I hope you will bear all of these things in mind and not let it put you off purchasing a copy. One thing I can say is that it is definitely an accurate account of heavy metal in the 1980s.

3:33 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

I am fine with everything you say except for two things. The first is this-

"My speculation is that the reviewer never suffered any of the crap the characters went through in the book. No harassment for the way they looked, being blamed for fights they didn't start or Jesus freaks coming to concerts to condemn them to hell."

You are making a broad assumption. You ask for an honest review and I don't mind you coming on here and clarifying points, in fact I welcome it. However the above goes past that point and tries to push at my background. This book is based on your memories and I respect that. Please respect my opinion because I was asked to review the book and I gave an honest opinion and I tried to be constructive as well. Besides you are writing for an audience and you are going to have people from different backgrounds reading it. So if you are upset and on the defensive by one review then you need to grow a tougher skin because when you ask for a review prepare to hear and accept what is said and work from there.

The other point that bothers me is this-
"One thing I can say is that it is definitely an accurate account of heavy metal in the 1980s."
I accept that. However this book is not a history of metal. It's a story with metal as large part of the background and it's one person's story. It has plenty of mentions of major bands and concerts of the day and that's great. However it's a story and as far as that goes I think it needed more work.

I wish you the best of luck with your next story.

5:58 AM  
Blogger tobychainsaw said...

First, let me apologise if I have caused you offense. You are right I don't know you and I don't want to use your forum as a winge fest nor a debating class. In fact, I have defended you from well meaning friends who tried to console me by saying that you were shooting down my book to inflate your own ego. I truly believe that you gave an honest opinon and as I said in the email, I have taken your points on board.
But please answer me honestly. Did you experience the crap the characters, myself and many other metal heads I know suffered from the non metal community? If you have, there is something you can use on your blog becuase I firmly believe that metal heads were the victims of much intolerance back in the 80s.
Again, thank you for your honest review and I will take on board the points you make.

12:41 PM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

I am not offended, but I will respond when I don't agree with a comment.

I review every item I get the same way-with an honest view. No ego here, but I say what I think. Always have, always will. It would be a disservice to every one involved if I did anything less.

To answer your question yes, I had battles with others over my love of music and I was judged by others as well.

Again best of luck with your writing in the future.

3:52 PM  
Blogger tobychainsaw said...

Thank you

2:53 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

I have to make a mention of something myself here. Being into heavy metal has never been in vogue. By definition it is a culture of outsiders. I know Mark went through crap just as I did and every other metalhead I know. We all remain loud and proud despite the fact that we march to our own drummers in life!

12:28 PM  
Blogger tobychainsaw said...

Originally, I wasn't intending to say anymore about the review of Rock And Roll Children but the more I think about it, there is one stome left unturned. First, of all, well said Andy, I couldn't agree more. I totally agree with you when you say that Rock And Roll Children isn't the story of heavy metal, but a story with heavy metal in it. However, thoughout the book, there a lot of things which are factual. When an album came out in the story, it coincided with when it was actually released. The concerts took place at the time mentioned as well. Furthermore, other metal related events like Vicne Neil's drunk driving accident which killed the drummer from Hanoi Rocks happened when I mentioned it. So did the PMRC Congressional Hearings and even Bon Jovi's appearance on the UK Top of the Pops. Many non metal related events like the subway vigilante and the US bombing of Libya are mentioned in collusion with actual history. I went through great pains to ensure all of this. So in these respects, my book is an accurate account of heavy metal in the 80s. Historical fact and fiction can go hand in hand.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Tobychainsaw-Actually you already did touch on this point with your first response...
"The concerts mentioned actually took place and I wanted to be as accurate as possible. I didn't want the Hollywood belief of letting historical fact getting in the way of a good story to happen to me". Plus in my review I said "The author has real memories".
The background and real events are not the main problem with the book. The problem is as I stated in the original review ..."I just never felt attached or very interested in the characters".

4:50 PM  

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