Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lucifer by Randy Pratt

( Lucifer is a 600 page novel about the lengthy, monumental career of the greatest heavy rock band of all time, the fictional Lucifer. But the reason rock fans may dig this book is that ‘fiction’ is less accurate than ‘historical fiction,’ because author Pratt’s intimate knowledge of/friendships with classic rock icons means that this book weaves together so many details and incidents that music geeks will appreciate that it’s the equivalent of an exhaustively researched period novel about Kennedy, Lincoln, or Churchill…it’s just that this one uses extensive knowledge of more important historical figures: it’s the likes of Randy Holden, Syd Barrett, and Tom Jones that pepper the adventures of Lucifer. Considering the protagonist’s sexy ladyfriend, this work also brings to mind FanFiction (the subculture where sci fi and TV fans write stories that often have the crew of the Enterprise or the cast of Buffy having lots of intercourse) or even Forest Gump, with the hapless Jenny screwing her way across Twentieth Century history (though Lucifer’s Whilma enjoys more triumphs and dignity than AIDS-ravaged Jenny did). The naughtiness climaxes at a sleazy 70s party where Lucifer confronts the Rat Pack, with Ol’ Blue Eyes calling them fags while famous porno chic adult film stars orchestrate a writhing orgy around the confrontation between the icons of two eras of musical cool. In this scene we get a little bit of Sammy admitting he doesn’t get heavy rock, but wishing he did cuz the friendliest Rat Packer wants to be hip. Sadly, for Sammy-philes like myself, in the book’s other insane cultural confluence scene (where actual Elvis conducts the first Elvis-overseen Vegas wedding of our romantic leads) Sammy is not with the Rat Packers. Pratt has worked with countless hard rock bands over the years, and many of them make appearances in these pages (including Cactus, a fine band only a hardcore, balls-out rock fan would include), and I’m sure he’s read hundreds of musical autobiographies, because this definitely reads like one of those. But for 600 pages to sustain quality you need some literary chops, some Jonathan Lethem or Michael Chabon action, not the equivalent of I Am Ozzy or Sex Money KISS. Which doesn’t mean obsessive rock fans shouldn’t read this, they will definitely enjoy the absurd grandeur and the fantasy namedropping of this alternate history (Lucifer’s influence, which despite the name is surprisingly wholesome and angelic, is used to redeem a number of doomed rockers), but you won’t be able to read it in one marathon session.

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