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Anything Goes

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  84 ratings  ·  16 reviews
In a complete departure from his sweeping historical novels and intense urban dramas, the author of "All Souls' Rising" renders a bittersweet, heartfelt coming-of-age story about a young man on tour with a band called Anything Goes.
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 25th 2002 by Pantheon (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Steve Kettmann
My S.F. Chronicle review from 2002:

About halfway through this deliciously entertaining novel about an unexceptional blues and rock band and the series of dive bars it calls home, the coked-up lead guitarist walks off in a huff just before a gig. This time, he's gone for good.
Desperate, the band turns to a squirrelly con-man character with slicked- back hair and a "fairly pleasant, hound-dog expression." He's a loser, the kind of guy who asks for a cigarette, pockets the pack, and then gives you
...more
Karen
I had this book sitting on my shelf for quite some time before chance had me pick it up. I really liked it, because I couldn't compare it to any other book. This is a slice of life that I would never have otherwise experienced. I found it true to life how people set up family in different ways, even ways that are bewildering to themselves. I loved Perry, a substitute but still flawed father figure. The reviews for this thing are all over the place. I guess it depends on where you are in your own ...more
Marlène
Déjà envoûtée par les talents de conteur de Madison Smartt Bell avec All Souls Rising et le chemin vers l'indépendance d'Haïti, me voilà qui renouvelle l'expérience, cette fois-ci dans un tout autre registre.

"Anything Goes", titre original du roman, c'est aussi le nom d'un groupe de blues, peut-être un peu de rock, d'un peu tous les genres dans ce ton là, un groupe comme tant d'autres, qui vivote sur les circuit des bistrots et gargotes dans le Sud des USA, fuyant l'hiver, sans se démarquer, ni
...more
Superstition Review
Madison Smartt Bell’s thirteenth novel, Anything Goes, follows a year in the life of protagonist Jesse Melungeon. Jesse is the bass player for a cover band called Anything Goes. While the novel deals with the struggles of the band to stay afloat it also reveals Jesse’s complicated family history. Throughout its plot, the novel deals with complex issues such as race, abuse, and addiction.

Bell ingeniously develops Jesse’s character throughout the novel. Over time, Jesse becomes a more dynamic and
...more
Itasca Community Library
Jeff says:

I used to see a lot of bar bands and had always wondered what life may be like for them, traveling around together trying to make enough to get to the next town. This book gives some insight into that life and into the hearts and minds of its band members: Jesse, the bass player and Perry, the group’s leader, as well as others.
Tiffany Dvorske
This is a first-person account from a young guy who's in a touring cover band. He has kind of a shaky relationship with his father and women, etc. You know. Kind of your standard coming-of-age stuff. This character is a complete fluff-brain. He has almost no thoughts about anything, and the author conveys this convincingly and well. By the end of the book, he's having thoughts, but they're still pretty elementary ones. Nevertheless, it's interesting to watch the character "evolve" to that point. ...more
Lyndie Strawbridge
This is a first-person account from a young guy who's in a touring cover band. He has kind of a shaky relationship with his father and women, etc. You know. Kind of your standard coming-of-age stuff. This character is a complete fluff-brain. He has almost no thoughts about anything, and the author conveys this convincingly and well. By the end of the book, he's having thoughts, but they're still pretty elementary ones. Nevertheless, it's interesting to watch the character "evolve" to that point. ...more
Jeff
Jesse plays bass in the bar band called Anything Goes, which unfortunately is falling apart. While on a never ending tour of dive bars and one night stands, Jesse tries to hang on through the endless grind of the tour to re-establish a relationship with his father, start a relationship with the new lead singer, and improve as a musician.

I used to see a lot of bar bands and had always wondered what life may be like for them, traveling around together trying to make enough to get to the next town.
...more
Diana
While Madison Smartt Bell doesn't use my favorite style of writing, I enjoyed the characters for not fitting into any stereotypes and for appearing quite real and conflicted without any easy answers. Even though we join Jesse in his twenties, the story feels very much like a coming-of-age tale, well woven and interesting. I must admit to some jealousy that the descriptions of chord progressions and musical genius was lost on me - definitely made me wish I'd grown up with some kind of musical bac ...more
Dan Pepper
Classic small-bore novel about the titular small-time bar band. It's told from the perspective of Jesse, the bass player. It just features a nice cast of characters, from total assholes to pretty decent dudes and ladies.

It's just a nice, well-told, well-written novel.

One thing I've noted a lot of people seem to think is that dude's name is Jesse Melungeon. Not so. "Melungeons" are a backwoods tribe or group of people in the Applachians whose origins are supposed to be mysterious.
Ian
a story of a professional musician on a tour loop with mid success. He finds the right ingredients for his band and then realizes he can be the musician he wants to be if he stops worrying and plays. A semi sad, semi hopeful book. Lots of music discussions - often beyond my knowledge.
Gpritchard
Love this author.

In this book, we're on the road for about a year with a 20-y.o. bass player in a small-time band traveling up-n-down the east coast playing dive clubs with the band. Very authentic folks, story, experiences.
Karl Kreisher
I thought that this book was a very realistic novel of on the road life for many people back in the day. people did do this sort of thing back then and I think it was a pleasing read you should read it.
Monica
It took me a long time to get through this "dullish" book. There was a part in there regarding his dad's apology for abusing him as a kid that part I liked.
Dianne
Just read this book. It's an interesting read, esp. for a guy book.
Jenna Marrs
Jenna Marrs marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2015
Linda
Linda marked it as to-read
Jun 03, 2015
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Jun 09, 2014
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Madison Smartt Bell is a critically acclaimed writer of more than a dozen novels and story collections, as well as numerous essays and reviews for publications such as Harper’s and the New York Times Book Review. His books have been finalists for both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, among other honors. Bell has also taught at distinguished creative writing programs including th ...more
More about Madison Smartt Bell...
All Souls' Rising Narrative Design: Working with Imagination, Craft, and Form Straight Cut (Hard Case Crime #21) Master of the Crossroads Charm City: A Walk Through Baltimore

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