Rock Bottom by Michael Shilling

Date of Publication: 2009, Back Bay Books

Number of Pages: 371

Synopsis (from back cover): Once upon a time, Blood Orphans were the next big thing. They had a fat recording contract, the swagger of the gods, and cheekbones that could cut glass. They were the darlings of the LA music scene. They were locked and loaded for rock-and-roll greatness.

And then everything…went…wrong. The singer became a born-again Buddhist who preached from the stage. The bass player’s raging eczema turned his hands into a pulpy mess. The drummer, a sex addict tormented by the misdeeds of his porn-king father, was losing his grip on reality. And the guitar player – the only talented one – was a doormat cowed by the constant abuse of his bandmates.

Set in Amsterdam on the last day of Blood Orphan’s final tour, this novel tells the raucous story of a band – and their heroically coked-out female manager – trying to get in one last shot at fame’s elusive bull’s-eye. Rock Bottom is a pitch-black comedy, a wild ride on the crazy train of outrageous misfortune, and a bighearted paean to the power of dreams.

Review: This book is simply fantastic. The members of Blood Orphans, a disgraced heavy metal band, each have their own bitterness and and misfortunes that they are forced to deal with on this last day of their tour. Bobby, the bass player with the diseased hands, spends his day fighting off his feelings of inferiority and struggles to believe in the affections of a beautiful Dutch girl. Adam, the insanely talented guitar player, finds himself believing in a future without Blood Orphans. Shane, the evangelist singer, spends his day covered in rancid peanut butter, struggling with the dying embers of his once white-hot faith. But it is Darlo, the sex-addicted drummer, who goes through one of the biggest transformations. While the other band members think of him only with hostility, he reveals a troubled, pained soul while dashing through the streets with Joey, the band’s drug-addicted manager. Darlo’s life changes with one phone call from the family lawyer, and he is forced to face the demons of his past.

Each chapter is told from the point of view of one of the characters, which give readers a glimpse into the extreme mental and emotional anguish and journey of each band member. By the end of the book, the band has morphed into something completely different…but I will leave it to future readers to discover what that is! I would recommend this book to any fan of rock-and-roll, or to anyone who has watched and loved This is Spinal Tap.

Rating: 10/10

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