The King of Good Intentions
Rock & roll summer reading
Reviewed by Michael Toland, Fri., June 21, 2013
The King of Good Intentionsby John Andrew Fredrick
Verse Chorus Press, 272 pp., $14.95 (paper)
Lit professor by day, indie rocker by night, John Andrew Fredrick finally soundtracked his band the Black Watch's 1999 LP, The King of Good Intentions. The novel stars John, a struggling musician trying to get his band off the ground, teach Southern California middle-schoolers, and nurture a relationship with his bandmate Jenny. Loquacious, overeducated, and snobbish in art, John's prone to rambling tangents, disregard for the fourth wall, and being led astray by his gonads. It doesn't take a grad student to know that last trait will jeopardize everything he's working to achieve. It's impossible not to read the story as autobiographical, even if you don't know Fredrick's history, including partnering with violinist and multi-instrumentalist J'Anna Jacoby, who went on to a session career with the likes of Rod Stewart. It's impressive Fredrick writes so candidly about his alter ego's bad decisions and self-absorption, and his eye for detail lends a real sense of you-are-there to John's POV. The prose sometimes wanders farther afield, but it's all to a purpose: John buries his dismay at the pain he's caused behind a wall of snarky commentary, which makes the abrupt ending ambiguous only if you haven't been paying attention.