I wasn’t going to include Searching for Tina Turner, the debut novel from Jacqueline E. Luckett, in my list of rock and roll fiction. It’s not about a...moreI wasn’t going to include Searching for Tina Turner, the debut novel from Jacqueline E. Luckett, in my list of rock and roll fiction. It’s not about a rocker. Not really. But it belongs on my list, all right.
In this tale of a woman searching to find herself once her kids are grown and she’s become disenchanted with always sublimating herself for her husband, it’s all about Tina, baby, and the lessons our main character, Lena, learns from the rock icon. These pages vibrate with Tina’s music — her lyrics, in particular.
There is strength in those famous words, there’s no denying that. As Lena runs around France, finds herself, almost repeats the mistakes she made the first time around, and eventually connects with her own strength, I found myself not only rooting for her but remembering who I am, too.
SFTT is one of those books that made me angry, grossed me out (when she chased all over like a groupie. It was SO beneath Lena), made me cry, and made me laugh out loud. And the ending? Absolutely perfect.
Okay, maybe parts of the book — and the ending — were a bit too pat. So what? The book needed it. Lena needed it. We, the reader, needed it.
Know what else I need now? A copy of I, Tina. There’s much to be learned from Tina’s tale, methinks.
As for Ms. Luckett, bring on the next one, baby. She’s a strong new voice who transcends skin color (I didn’t even realize the heroine was African American until I saw the “Essence Book Club” badge on the cover.) and speaks to all of us women.
Except… maybe not Tina Turner. She’s been there, done this. Survived it. So does Lena.
I thought I knew what to expect from Tommy Lee’s Tommyland. After all, I’d devoured The Dirt, the autobiography of Tommy’s band, Motley Crue. I’d been transfixed and even a little transformed by Crue bassist Nikki Sixx’s The Heroin Diaries.
And now, coming a little late to the party, I’ve got Tommyland in my hands. At last. And while I was expecting some of it — like tales of his first-ever girlfriend, who possessed a rather unique (ahem) talent — one thing I certainly hadn’t been prepared for was narrative asides in the style of a Greek chorus.
Only, this Greek chorus is provided by Tommy’s penis.
Yes, boys and girls, you read that right. I’ve got to note, too, that Tommy’s penis is quite the funny character. Maybe even a little bit wise, too.
That’s not to say that Tommy himself isn’t funny or wise. He’s quite entertaining, in fact, and for the most part, Tommyland is quite readable. This is actually high praise; Tommy comes off as a regular guy. He’s got his fan-boy moments. He’s also got his rock star moments. But perhaps the most poignant moments involve the death of the little boy, Daniel, in the Tommyland pool during a birthday party.
I remember that. I remember an awful lot of what happens in Tommyland, in fact, and I’m not the world’s biggest Crue fan. (Odd, given that I keep reading the books they put out.) Yet how could anyone miss the media circus that was his marriage to Pamela Anderson? The jail time Tommy served?
Seeing it from the inside gave me what I was hoping for in this book — a new perspective. Tommy’s made me stop and consider how it feels to need to have a few personal moments, only to find a photographer parked in the tree outside your bedroom. It’s hard not to empathize with Tommy and Pamela at times. This from me, who admitted to liking the train wreck they seemed to be.
I stand corrected. In fact, the romantic in me would love to see them figure out how to make it work — without the stresses they had to face, without the paparazzi, without the anger.
I always pick up these music-themed books with the hopes that they’ll inspire my fiction, or teach me something new. From that standpoint, Tommyland succeeded; the paparazzi bits aren’t the only things I learned or was inspired by. Perhaps the biggest inspiration came in Tommy’s comments about the almost-constant lawsuits. It’s his off-hand manner, the way he dismisses them all with mentions of the legal fees; it’s quite telling. His relationship with music, too, is special. It’s what a number of my own fictional characters share, so to hear Tommy articulate it the way he does… wow. Nothing like the reinforcement that I’m on the right track with, for example, Mitchell. His relationship with his dad, the houseboat episode, is both touching and mind-blowing.
Say what you will about Tommy Lee. I’ve got a newfound admiration for his gentle, tender side. He may be that bad-assed rocker we’ve all come to know and roll our eyes at, but there’s more to him. Much, much more.
I can’t say I loved Tommyland the way I loved The Dirt, or the absolutely brilliant Heroin Diaries. This book didn’t knock my socks off the way both of those books did. I don’t think it’s meant to; it’s merely meant to be Tommy’s story. His life, his explanation of this wild ride he’d been on up to that point.
I hope there’s a sequel, telling us what Tommy’s been up to since Tommyland came out. I won’t wait so long to read it. (less)
For me, who almost spent her life in the music industry, this book was a combination tease and walk down memory lane. In a good way.
While the informa...moreFor me, who almost spent her life in the music industry, this book was a combination tease and walk down memory lane. In a good way.
While the information in it is pretty basic to me, I can see how today's kids would need to be told the value of an internship, especially in the music business, where it's all who you know and the strength of your reputation. Best of all, while the book is aimed mostly at people who want a career writing, the advice can be applied to whatever your goals are -- unless you want to be a musician. Working at a record label isn't the way to achieve those aims.
It's a rare breed who can make a career behind THESE scenes. Do the Devil's Work will give you a glimpse of what you're in for if this is your aim. But if there's one thing that I wish had been played up more, it's the toughness that this life requires. It's not glamour. It's not all rock and roll.
Well, it is. And we like it. That's why we do it.(less)