Rock & Roll Books

Any Old Way You Choose It

Rock & Roll Books

The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora

by Michael Nesmith

St. Martin's, 256 pp., $24.95

Having been a TV star in the Sixties (The Monkees), a country musician in the Seventies (The First National Band), and a film producer in the Eighties (Repo Man), it's only natural that Michael Nesmith should round out the Nineties by trying to write the Great American Novel. Actually, he deserves points for limiting that goal to the Great Southwestern Novel. The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora definitely falls into that specific category of wistful narrative wherein the talespinner marvels at the mysteries of the Native American and wrings his hands over the insanity that is modern life.

Despite Nesmith's history of sometimes self-indulgent or at least self-conscious works, Neftoon Zamora is a free-falling, effortless read, following the fictional tale of the real Nesmith (as opposed to the fictional Mike of the Monkees) as he follows a quest throughout New Mexico and Nevada seeking Neftoon Zamora. Zamora is a mythical woman rumored to be "part Zuni, part Martian, and part Delta Blues musician," while (of course) seeing his own life irrevocably changed in the process. Without giving too much away, "Nez" finds Neftoon Zamora, or at least a Neftoon Zamora, and throughout the well-paced tome finds himself both emotionally and physically dragged through enough bramble bushes and small Southern towns to last a lifetime, even for the man who invented MTV (and yes, that little matter is addressed briefly in the book).

Nesmith's prose is occasionally clunky, but that's all right, since this is unquestionably a "personality" book -- if you're reading it, you're probably familiar enough with the author to hear his voice talking you through as you read it. It's far from vanity press, however; Nesmith's yarn of lost cities, personal relationships, and unethical corporations is confident, fun, and best of all, to use Nez's own words, not "too New Agey."

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The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora, Michael Nesmith

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