The Alternative Hero

Rock & Roll books, bound but ungagged

The Ties That Bind

The Alternative Hero

by Tim Thornton
Vintage, 416 pp., $15.95 (paper)

If you're unfamiliar with the indie rock scene of the Eighties and Nineties in England, then read no further. The Alternative Hero novelizes a fictional UK band, which has long since broken up, although washed-up music journalist and megafan Clive Beresford remains on a mission to explain the band's demise. Thus this tome painstakingly details that reason, plus the shortcomings of the band's frontman, Lance Webster, which is precisely what makes the story so frustrating; although the musical details are ready-made for geeks, there are no sympathetic characters. It's therefore a chore to read about their exploits – and don't expect women to be anything but groupies or a nuisance. The story gets interesting as Webster and Beresford begin interacting, but then dawdles into precious territory, getting sewn up all too neatly.

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