Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sway by Zachary Lazar

Who can say why this jumped out at me in the library? Although I should point out it's the second book I've reviewed with Charles Manson on the cover.

This is a novel about the death of the sixties, and looks at the Manson family, the rise of the Rolling Stones and the life of Kenneth Anger, who made avant-garde, occult-inspired films like Scorpio Rising.

I really enjoyed Sway. All these subjects are fascinating to me, and the novel shows how they connect - Anger had started making a film with Bobby Beausoliel, who ran off to join the Manson family. Anger then finished a film using some of the footage for a short film he made with Mick Jagger - Invocation of my Demon Brother click to watch!

So it all ties in, but it's told in a really oblique and poetic way. The atmosphere is always dark and menacing, and there's a lot of weird satanic imagery, but it's not a tough read. Partly that's because it's nice and short, but also because it works on a dramatic level. It's not always easy portraying well known people in a new and interesting way, but Lazar does a great job at getting inside their heads. The interplay between Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones is especially good. Great setpieces as well - Altamont, the murder of Gary Hinman, the recording of Sympathy for the Devil.

No easy messages here - it's all very enigmatic - but one I took is how quickly things fall apart when all the old assumptions and ethics are jettisoned for big ideas like Peace and Love. And how peace and love become interchangeable with violence and hate when the very idea of objective morality is seen as old fashioned.

I'm sure others will have different readings - you should definitely give it a go.


Bryce said...

Ooh! Get you with your imbedded links. Fancy. Sounds like an interesting book though.

Joe said...

Library book, so no lendy. You're always desperate for reading material - why don't you get yourself a card?

Bryce said...

I've got a library card but I can't be bothered to go down there, find a book, read it within the time they give you to read it, and then take it all the way back...
It's too much like hard work. I'd rather be passing a shop and just pick one up. Like that day you dropped me off, I went into Fopp and picked up Bright Lights Big City for £2. Much better than having to do the whole library thing. There are tons of good charity shops in Aberdeen (near where I lived). I used to pick up books in those all the time, when I was there. In fact I picked up my The Lost Highway in hardback in mint condition for a few quid. And that way when you come round I can lend it to you (BLBC not the Lost Highway).


Joe said...

I probably end up paying about 2 pounds in overdue fines for each library book anyway. That's when I don't lose them and have to pay full whack (thanks for that, Let the Right One In)