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Utopia Avenue af David Mitchell
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Utopia Avenue (udgave 2020)

af David Mitchell (Forfatter)

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
3532753,118 (4.04)56
"Soho, London, 1967. Folk-rock-psychedelic quartet Utopia Avenue is formed. Guitarist Jasper de Zoet, a shy, half-Dutch public-school musical prodigy, was hearing voices long before he dropped acid. Keyboardist Elf Holloway must defy the prejudices of her bank manager father, her housewife mother, and her age to forge her own career. Bassist Dean Moss cannot, will not, spend his life on the factory floor like everyone else in Gravesend. Band manager Levon Frankland--gay, Jewish, and Canadian--is not unduly burdened by conscience. The drummer is a drummer. Over two years and two albums, Utopia Avenue navigates the dark end of the Sixties: its parties, drugs and egos, political change and personal tragedy; and the trials of life as a working band in London, the provinces, European capitals and, finally, the promised land of America. What is art? What is fame? What is music? How can the whole be more than the sum of its parts? Can idealism change the world? How does your youth shape your life? This is the story of Utopia Avenue. Not everyone lives to the end"--… (mere)
Medlem:-Eva-
Titel:Utopia Avenue
Forfattere:David Mitchell (Forfatter)
Info:Random House (2020), 592 pages
Samlinger:Read in 2020, Dit bibliotek, Hylla: Hb
Vurdering:****
Nøgleord:english literature, fiction, LTER

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Utopia Avenue af David Mitchell

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Author amnesia strikes again. Looking back, I've read three of David Mitchell's novels prior to this one, dropping a star with each title, so I don't know why I wanted to try another. At least I only paid 99p.

I think the 1960s was my motivation in this case, but honestly, I could write a more convincing story set in the Swinging Sixties, and I was born in 1980. Wikipedia is a wonderful research tool but better authors at least try to disguise that they are not writing from experience. Also the cast of 'cameo' artists, from John Lennon to Janis Joplin, was excruciating - I note the artists Mitchell chose are all dead, presumably to avoid being sued for defamation ('There are too many famous people at this party, it's bloody ridiculous,' someone comments at one point. Too true!)

In 1967, a Brian Epstein-esque manager called Levon puts together an eclectic band of female folk singer, demented guitarist, blokey bassist and Yorkshire drummer. They title themselves Utopia Avenue and hit the big time, eventually reaching the States. That, and their tedious personal dramas, makes for a 500 page novel, the cliched plot stretched out by name dropping and potted histories of historical events. And everything ties in with Mitchell's previous novels, but I either didn't read the right ones or can't remember.

The characters are more like caricatures, especially 'Elf', the singer - based on Sandy Denny, poor woman - who lets her Aussie boyfriend walk all over her and then decides she loves a woman. I think we're meant to believe that she's spunky and feisty and all those adjectives, but she's merely the perfect example of why men shouldn't write female characters. The most interesting of the bunch is the guitarist Jasper, who has 'emotional dyslexia' and hears voices, or knocking in his case (sorry, knock knock KNOCK KNOCK - Mitchell does love his onomatopoeia).

I found this novel really tedious and uninspired, but was determined I wouldn't be beaten or rack up another DNF this month, so I persevered. For absolutely no reward come the end. Note to future self: DO NOT READ ANY MORE NOVELS BY DAVID MITCHELL. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Oct 21, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An episodic novel that follows the 60's band Utopia Avenue from its creation to its potential demise. This is a hefty tome where Mitchell's habit of playing with reality and history gets a free leash and we, the readers, are gifted a tall tale about sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll. Although there are some irritants, like the resolution to Jasper's issue and the endless cameos of wise real-life celebrities, I am enamored of Mitchell's way of giving me characters that I truly care about, regardless if they're good, bad, or somewhere on a spectrum. This was one of those novels that I truly enjoyed sitting down to read and savor, not only for story or characters, but for its winding lusciousness. ( )
  -Eva- | Oct 17, 2020 |
London, 1967. I was there, and Mitchell brings this time and place vividly to life. A new band is formed. Bassist Dean Moss, a working class bloke from Gravesend, estranged from his father. A lady's man, reveling in the adulation of the chicks and groupies. Elf, from a stable, middle-class family, a folksinger/song writer with a small but loyal following. Just dumped by her Australian lover, Bruce, a jerk. Griff, the drummer comes from a jazz background, and in the background he mostly stays (often the fate of the drummer, I think), except for an interlude when circumstances cause him to question whether he will stay with the group as it takes off. And finally Jasper de Zoet, half Dutch, half English descendant of Jacob de Zoet, guitarist extraordinaire, another Clapton or Hendrix. Together, they become the band Utopia Avenue.

We follow the band's slow but steady rise to fame from playing the gritty pubs and halls of working-class England to Top of the Pops, to Amsterdam, and then onto a USA tour--from demo records to LPs topping the charts. Along the way famous people pass in and out of their lives--from Brian Jones to the Beatles and Stones to Leonard Cohen ("Lennie") to Janis Joplin to the Grateful Dead. It's a great ride, especially if you lived the times and the names and the music are familiar to you.

But even if you didn't, Mitchell tells a great story, with real and engaging characters. And, in particular, Mitchell is able to convey the creative processes his characters go through, so we are able to see and feel how songs are written, the spark that generates them, how the music is composed and the lyrics evolve. He also brings to life what the band members experience as they play their songs--how they "feel" the music and how they work together, and "rub off" on each other during performances and recording sessions. I particularly loved seeing how each of the band members composed songs to work through life issues, and seeing how even if the lyrics of a song might seem opaque or "druggie" if you didn't know what was going on behind the scenes, they were in fact wonderfully expressive.

There was one part of the book I didn't care for, although overall it didn't distract me too much. I haven't liked the "supernatural" elements of Mitchell's more recent fiction, i.e. The Bone Clocks. Here, Jasper is presented with a history of mental illness, having experienced a period of hospitalization for something resembling schizophrenia: he hears knocks. In actuality he has some sort of demon or malevolent spirit within him who has been dormant for centuries and who now wants out. This issue of Jasper being tormented, the effects on him and the band, just didn't have to involve the supernatural. Plain old schizophrenia would have been enough. But there's a whole chapter involving the horologists. I waded through, but didn't like it. But I didn't write the book, and overall I loved it.

4 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Oct 9, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Not an easy one to process. This is a departure from other David Mitchell standards such as Cloud Atlas or The Bone Clocks and its connection to The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet almost feels like an add-on. Over half of the book is the straightforward story of a British band’s emergence onto the psychedelic music scene of the late '60s. But then it segues briefly into Mitchell’s alternate reality of atemporals and migrating souls before settling into a contemplation of reality’s influence on art vs. art’s influence on reality, the way creativity works, and how music – and art - really do change the world. Since this is a primarily a book about music and reviews are made up of words the best way to get a feel for it is through this ( https://open.spotify.com/playlist/09SuXCtjHJiNdtEDfWh55e ) Spotify playlist compiled by the author.

My thanks to the publisher and LibraryThing Early Reviewers for the copy my review is based on. ( )
  wandaly | Oct 7, 2020 |
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"Soho, London, 1967. Folk-rock-psychedelic quartet Utopia Avenue is formed. Guitarist Jasper de Zoet, a shy, half-Dutch public-school musical prodigy, was hearing voices long before he dropped acid. Keyboardist Elf Holloway must defy the prejudices of her bank manager father, her housewife mother, and her age to forge her own career. Bassist Dean Moss cannot, will not, spend his life on the factory floor like everyone else in Gravesend. Band manager Levon Frankland--gay, Jewish, and Canadian--is not unduly burdened by conscience. The drummer is a drummer. Over two years and two albums, Utopia Avenue navigates the dark end of the Sixties: its parties, drugs and egos, political change and personal tragedy; and the trials of life as a working band in London, the provinces, European capitals and, finally, the promised land of America. What is art? What is fame? What is music? How can the whole be more than the sum of its parts? Can idealism change the world? How does your youth shape your life? This is the story of Utopia Avenue. Not everyone lives to the end"--

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