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Utopia Avenue
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July 2020: Other Books > Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell - 4 stars

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Joy D | 4034 comments Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell - 4 stars - My Review

PBT Comments: This is a new release from David Mitchell.

Story of a 1960s folk-rock-psychedelic band, Utopia Avenue, from their formation to their reception in America as part of the “British Invasion.” The story follows the lives of the band members through ups and downs, big breaks, public appearances, tours, songwriting, family situations, and relationships.

The book is structured in the format of an album, with each chapter related to a particular song. The reader is privy to the featured band member’s thoughts, so we get to know each of them. One of the band members experiences mental health issues, and this particular storyline goes rather far afield. I am told Mitchell’s works tend to intersect, but this is only the second of his works I have read, so it occasionally left me scratching my head.

The story features cameo appearances by real people of the music scene, which lends a historical flavor, as do the referenced cultural events of the time (1967-1968). It ventures into the expected areas of “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.” It is well-written and entertaining. I normally do not care for epilogues, but I found this one exceptional.

I received an advance reader’s copy from the publisher via NetGalley.


message 2: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6323 comments I'm curious about mental health issues that goes far afield as it reminds me of the original founder of Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green who just recently passed away.

The WP states
"Mr. Green was met at the airport by a mysterious couple — a young woman in wire-rim glasses and a man wearing a cape. He ended up spending several days with the couple, apparently taking LSD at a castle outside Munich. When other band members tried to retrieve Mr. Green from what they described as a cult, they found him playing guitar in a frenzied fashion."

Apparently he was never the same after that and spent time in a mental institution.


message 3: by Joy D (last edited Jul 29, 2020 04:37PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joy D | 4034 comments Booknblues wrote: "I'm curious about mental health issues that goes far afield as it reminds me of the original founder of Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green who just recently passed away..."

The band's guitarist, Jasper, is inhabited by a foreign psycho-phenomenon that communicates with him via a sequence of knocks. Schizophrenia is mentioned but I am not sure he ever gets a specific diagnosis.

(view spoiler)

There is an LSD trip described in the book, (view spoiler)

I was not familiar with what had happened to Peter Green, but it reminded me a bit of Syd Barrett (who makes a cameo appearance in the book).


message 4: by Reddkryten (new)

Reddkryten | 1 comments Booknblues wrote: "I'm curious about mental health issues that goes far afield as it reminds me of the original founder of Fleetwood Mac, Peter Green who just recently passed away.

The WP states
"Mr. Green was met a..."



I don’t think Jasper has a mental issue that can be diagnosed (well, he seems to be on the autistic spectrum).

Knock Knock and the Mongolia were in other Mitchell novels and they’re explicitly supernatural, rather than a mental illness, mistake or metaphor.


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Utopia Avenue (other topics)

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