Experienced: Rock Music Tales of Fact and Fiction
Edited by Roland Goity & John Ottey; Illustrations by Kimy Martinez
Vagabondage Press, $12.99 print/$3.99 digital, 150 pp.
As its title suggests, this small-press book is an anthology of 16 tales of, by and about rock and roll, with the emphasis on fictional short stories, penned by musicians, music journalists, novelists, industry insiders, and academics.
Standout pieces include a band member's account of Guided By Voices' wooing by a major label, a profile of openly gay blues harmonica player Jason Ricci, and some sketches of Dee Dee Ramone by a neighbor.
Of the obviously fictional works, stories about Deadheads, a down-on-his-luck solo acoustic performer, and a broken up band attempting a reunion read well.
But, as is often the case with music writing, both fact and fiction, elements of tweeness creep into other stories, as if the writer is determined to cram in as many performer references and rock-crit clichés as possible.
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A stream-of-consciousness rant about Madonna would turn off the Material Girl's most diehard fan, and a noirish story about a femme-fatale murderess who confesses her crimes to a favorite DJ fall flat. A longer piece about Phish fans overstays its welcome like one of Trey Anastasio's lengthy jams.
Overall, Experienced is - like many literary anthologies - a mixed bag in terms of quality. But then again, so is your average record.