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The Age of Anxiety

2.87  ·  Rating details ·  322 ratings  ·  95 reviews
In his debut novel, rock legend Pete Townshend explores the anxiety of modern life and madness in a story that stretches across two generations of a London family, their lovers, collaborators, and friends.

A former rock star disappears on the Cumberland moors. When his wife finds him, she discovers he has become a hermit and a painter of apocalyptic visions.

An art dealer ha
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Hachette Books
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Average rating 2.87  · 
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Oct 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yes, Rocker Pete Townshend wrote this novel. But, it's nothing like you'd expect and is an absolutely awesome meditation on music, art, love, madness, witchcraft, and sexuality. It's more of a character study than a traditional storytelling novel. Think of a narrator slowly and gingerly peeling away the many layers of his life and discovering as the reader discovers what his life has been about. Where does madness end and creativity begin? Where does love end and jealousy and possessiveness begi ...more
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book was utterly perplexing.

Louis is a dealer in Outsider art who gets a new client, an ex-rockstar who claims to have seen a whole host of angels. Louis's godson, Walter, has begun to hear the anxiety of the people in the front row at his concerts in auditory hallucinations. Selena claims to see angels and be able to heal people through them. This is just a taste of the host of characters this book throws at you in quick succession.

There is not so much a story as this is a collection of
Nov 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read2019

But I have to say I didn’t realise that the author was a former rockstar and I don’t really know who he is/his music.
Which I feel is a good thing because I don’t have the “musician turned author” in the background/prejudices.

For a debut book, it was pretty good. This is definitely a book outside of my usual genre but I did enjoy it.

3.5 stars
Gary Daly
Dec 19, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Like reading a teen romance novel. There are some but very few good passages in this novel. For me a tortured and agonising reading experience. The constant reference to young ‘sexy’ women all falling head over heels in and out of love with a herd of boring and rich boorish artists. The characters, an old rocker, the new kid on the block who in turn becomes an old rocker returns to the stage after a fifteen year hiatus of gardening. The comeback is the main scheme of narrative in this pot boilin ...more
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Self indulgent novel about self obsessed characters.
I was intrigued by the synopsis of the novel, thinking it would be told from different povs about their difference experiences with anxiety, drugs, and spirituality...but that’s a hard no.
We get a story told from a godfather (ex druggie, abandon husband, art dealer) POV about his godson (rock star and as the story continues douche) and how he navigates an existential crisis within himself and those around him.
Definitely wouldn’t recommend.
Keith  Blodgett
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
It's. Finally. Over.
The story is of Louis, who's an art dealer, a dealer in Outsider Art. It's also the story of Walter, a semi famous harmonica player for a rock band. Walter think's he going insane and hearing the feelings of the people in the audience. This is also, most poignantly, a story about Selena a self professed 'dealer in angelic miracles'. She sees and speaks with angels of all sorts, heals the sick, councils the lost, etc. There are various wives, daughters, lovers, some interchang
Brittney Gibbon
Nov 01, 2019 rated it liked it

“Footsteps fleeing, footsteps following. A chase. A clearing. A cleaning. A cleansing of woodland, jungle, wild animals, human body and soul. And then the clunk, click, clank of huge switches being thrown, the buzz of brilliance and electrons. Blinded again, by brilliance, the future, by fear, by anxiety and shame.”

Welcome to The Age of Anxiety. A sprawling tale, spanning the entire lifetime of some of the characters within it, intercepted by ‘soundscapes’ like the one above. Walter, the rocksta
Nov 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: my-books
I didn’t buy this because I thought I’d like the story or the writing. I bought it because I’m hoping it will enhance my appreciation of Who (or whatever the next album is called). There is some precedent. I’d loved the White City album for years, but it wasn’t until I the script of its companion “novel,” that I understood what half the songs were about. Age of Anxiety is almost certainly meant to be seen as another facet of the Lifehouse/Boy Who Heard Music concept, but its narrator shares even ...more
It's been a week since I finished this...and I'm still thinking...reflecting...researching. Pete Townshend (yes, THAT Townshend) has written a novel about art and music and madness. About waiting for inspiration. About drugs and broken relationships and redemption. And I'm just as confused by it all as I was reading it...but sometimes you don't have to just listen, or watch, or view. You just let the words wash over you.

There IS a story...beginning with the rock star who makes a
Sophie Perry
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
The Age of Anxiety by Pete Townshend is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late October.

Ahh, beloved Pete, who I, at risk of taunting from my friends, favor greater than Roger Daughtry. It's kind of written like a monologued confessionary screenplay of Louis, an art dealer who is good at most things and knows a lot of interesting people, including his burgeoning-on-world-famous musician godson, Walter. It’s natural to try and squint to figure the guise of perhaps autobiographical characters (
Melissa Mustain
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I think Pete Townsend is one of the most gifted song writers of our time. The Who is also one of my top three favorite bands, which is why I asked for this book for Christmas. I had a hard time staying interested in the book, and much of the story was hard to follow. I am glad that I read it, but I'm not sure I would recommend it to others, unless like me you're a huge fan of Pete Townsend. ...more
Alicia Huxtable
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
To be honest, I'm not 100% sure about what I just read, but I did enjoy it. It was a bit of a ride for sure. ...more
Zechariah Montoya
Mar 29, 2020 rated it did not like it
WTF did I read!?!? This book was weird, some parts were beautifully written and then other parts were trash. The story was painfully slow for me, Pete Townsend should stick to playing halftime shows and stay away from writing books.
Cristie Underwood
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
Usually when famous actors or singers write novels, I find myself forcing myself to get through them. Pete Townshend is the exception, as this book was a mixture of weirdness that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I hope to read more from him in the future.
Jo-Ann Duff (Duffy The Writer)
Pete Townshend is part of the biggest rock band to ever grace this earth. The Who. If you are of a certain age, you will remember them well, but still today their rock anthems are used in advertisements and as the theme tune to one of my favourite crime shows, CSI.

Pete is what some may call a manic genius. He sold millions of records and held stadium concerts packed with thousands of people, he is also the mastermind behind Tommy and Quadrophenia. However, it all went south in 2003 when he was a
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Pete Townshend and classic rock
Recommended to ba by: The
Tigger alert: This book contains (non-graphic) discussions and recollections about rape

I'm a big fan of Mr. Townshend's music—less so of his interviews and previous writing. As an example I found his autobiography, Who I Am, to be poorly-written and dubious. On the other I felt that The Age of Anxiety leveraged some of the very qualities I disliked about the autobiography (conflation of love, lust, and spirituality which bordered misogyny) to good effect. By writing fiction about several charact
Marthe Bijman
Nov 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Judging by the blurb, I thought would get interesting thoughts about music and bands and being a professional musician in this novel. But The Age of Anxiety is not what I expected. It is a blend of romance and erotica, drama, mysticism, psychological mystery, art, and then also, music. Music is an important theme in the novel, but not music as you’d normally think about it. Townshend introduces a different way of describing music which makes it feel to the reader as if they were listening to som ...more
Doug Trani
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
In a story replete with more improbable coincidences than “Candide”, it is no coincidence that Louis Doxstader, the protagonist in this novel, is cast as a dealer in outsider art. This book is the literary equivalent. Although Pete Townshend’s writing craft does not rise to the level of a Kazuo Ishiguro or a Salman Rushdie, it is still impressive. Possibly even more so because of his outsider status. When Michael Jordan left basketball in 1994 to try his hand at baseball, no one expected him to ...more
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't feel qualified to render an opinion really, because this was not my type of book. Based on my knowledge of Pete Townshend's life, it seemed that he drew on his own life experience, and his approximate age, etc. Oddly, I am 67 as I read this book. But it relies too much on creativity, metaphorical stuff, and poetry to suit me. I don't read poetry, and I have little patience for high art. I love Pete Townshend and the Who, and have been seeing them in concert before they were even playing ...more
Nov 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
This is one of the most boring books I ever read. I got a few chapters in and realized there was nothing to hold my interest. I didn’t care about any of the characters, or even remember most of them. There’s no plot; nothing happens except for long, boring stories. It just wasn’t the book for me.
Did not finish. After 2 hours, I just couldn't care less about what the book is about. ...more
Pete, stick with the music.
Lenny D
Jan 15, 2020 rated it liked it
“Artists maybe see things differently to you and me. Or perhaps the difference is that they try to let us share what they see.” (36)

You know, I liked this novel. Exceeded expectations. I figured Pete was going to be pretentious as shit, which he was, but I appreciated that he wrote about themes I wanted to see him write about — rock music, fame, creativity — and threw in some really pretty moving poetry for good measure.

I liked the fact that he put it in the first person. It authorizes a very ca
Nov 09, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Age of Anxiety, Pete Townsend’s debut novel (Horse’s Neck, a collection of poems and prose pieces was published in 1985), centres on the artistic struggles and tangled love life of rock star Walter Karel Watts. The intricate, free-ranging story, which features a large cast of characters and covers many years, is narrated by Walter’s godfather, Louis Doxtader, a well-off London dealer of “Outsider Art.” In the 1990s Walter gained fame as front man and chief songwriter of the successful pub ba ...more
Dan'l Danehy-oakes
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a good book, a far better novel than I had expected (frankly, I was not terribly impressed by his collection of short stories, _Horse's Neck_). But it's deucedly hard to describe briefly.

Our narrator is Louis Doxtader, a dealer in "outsider art". But he isn't, exactly, the main character; this is more of an "ensemble" novel.

It begins in the late '70s, when Paul Jackson - leader of the progressive rock band Hero Ground Zero - finished starring in a film. In the last filmed scene, Jackson
Marilyn Shea
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
All right, Pete Townshend wrote it and I never knew he wrote books but apparently he has, along with reviews and columns in magazines and so on. But just knowing him in connection with the Who, I was surprised to see this title. At first, I wasn't very impressed but slugged through it since there weren't many books about at the time. I felt it was, I don't know, kind of sleazy, how the narrator was an old guy who did too many drugs in his youth but was rather proud of it and somehow had never do ...more
Scott Collins
Dec 20, 2020 rated it liked it
There is no question for me whatsoever that Pete Townshend is one of rock and roll's greatest songwriters and conceptualists and so, making the leap to writing books is not remotely far fetched as a gifted as he is with the written word. Following his short story collection "Horse's Neck" (1985) and his excellent autobiography "Who I Am" (2012), we arrive with his impressionistic debut novel "The Age Of Anxiety," a compelling inner journey that for me, contained some key echoes to the iconograph ...more
Mo Correa
Nov 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Just finished this book. Initially I had read the first chapter and abandoned it for quite some time as it didn’t spark my interest. However, I gave it a second shot and actually enjoyed it.

The pacing could be a bit faster. It felt like nothing quite happened the entire book until we were nearing the end.

The characters were not at all boring, in my mind. This, of course, doesn’t mean I like all of them. I rather loathe the narrator, Louis. But not because I think his character is written badly
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-fiction
Pete Townshend's first novel, The Age of Anxiety, is disappointing. that isn't to say it's bad. Townshend is possibly the closest person that I would describe as a hero. He is, in my opinion, the greatest composer of rock songs ever, and it isn't close. The defiance of Won't Get Fooled Again, the confused identity of Jimmy in Quadrophenia, the introspection of Who By Numbers and Empty Glass all supported me and nurtured me through my adolescent and teenage years. So I was thrilled when I receive ...more
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Pete Townshend (born Peter Dennis Blandford Townshend), is an award-winning English rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, composer, and writer.

Townshend made his name as the guitarist and principal songwriter for rock band The Who. His career with them spans more than 40 years, during which time the band grew to be considered one of the greatest and most influential rock bands of all time, in additi

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