Novels that Rock

shelved under Music and Fiction

Once you've read such gems as Please Kill Me: The Oral History of Punk and Our Band Could Be Your Life, and you're ready for a break from non-fiction books about music, try one of these novels.  All are by music geeks (well, most are by one music geek in particular — um... me), and all reflect the power of music to enlighten, transform, and even destroy.

A Special Note From Flashlight Worthy:
While we're happy to accept lists from authors, we always tell them that because of our editorial standards, they may not include their own books on the list they write.

This list is an exception. Brendan didn't approach us. We approached him. Having stumbled across his blog, we saw that he's an excellent writer... who's been published numerous times... who's won awards... and has yet to really break through.

So, we decided to see if we could help by asking him for a list and encouraging him to include his own books. Enjoy.

P.S. Note that two titles — "King Dork" and "Forever Changes" — are actually geared towards high school students though likely still enjoyable for any adult music fan.


King Dork

by Frank Portman

The word "rollicking" is overused, but it applies here. The titular misfit tries to solve the mystery of his dad's death, avoid the attention of the sociopathic normal kids, and get a girl — any girl. He obsessively creates hilarious band and album names, and eventually finds that the solution to many of his problems may lie in rock and roll.


Long Way Back

by Brendan Halpin

A novel about love, faith, and the healing power of punk rock. More specifically, it concerns whether a 35-year-old straight man can bounce back from personal tragedy by joining a gay punk band, and whether punk rock can fill the void when you lose your faith. The ending of this book remains the best thing I've ever written.


Dear Catastrophe Waitress

by Brendan Halpin

I wrote this after wondering what it must be like to be one of those poor saps who had a breakup song written about them. Most musicians I've known haven't been the easiest people to live with, and I suspected it must be frustrating to have your side of the story unheard by the world. So this is the story of two people who are the subjects of such songs (one a punk anthem, the other a Lilith Fair-esque anthem), how that messes up their lives, and how they eventually find each other and love.


Never Mind the Pollacks: A Rock and Roll Novel

by Neal Pollack

The entire history of rock and roll in 304 hilarious pages. Told through the eyes of his chief rival, it's the tale of how a drunken, unpleasant, and inexplicably sexually successful rock critic named Neal Pollack interacts with and influences pretty much every important rock and roll musician ever. I laughed aloud on every page.


Forever Changes

by Brendan Halpin

18-year old Brianna Pelletier has a more acute version of everyone's problem: how do you live knowing your lifespan is finite? Brianna, who has cystic fibrosis, believes she may not live to see the end of high school. She finds comfort in her friendship with her calculus teacher, an obese bon vivant with heart trouble, who is rumored to have been a member of the band Love. She discovers Love's weird masterpiece Forever Changes, and that album, her friends, and the mind-blowing aspects of math help her to figure out how to live.


I Can See Clearly Now

by Brendan Halpin

A novel of sex, drugs, and educational cartoons. Four young songwriters come together in the basement of a TV network in 1972 with the goal of creating catchy tunes for educational cartoons to run between the cereal commercials on Saturday morning. Songs get written and massive amounts of marijuana get smoked; sex and betrayals both personal and professional ensue. Will the song "Tuskeegee Syphilis Experiment Got Me Down" ever make it to Saturday Morning TV?