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Chris High books reviewed

The Alternative Hero.

Tim Thornton

Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd
Paperback: 320 pages
ISBN-10: 022408724X
ISBN-13: 978-0224087247
March 5th, 2009

Image: Front cover of the book 'The Alternative Hero' written by Tim Thornton

Filled with anecdotes any self-respecting gig-head will recognise, Tim Thornton’s The Alternative Hero is as well crafted a debut as Ronaldo and Macheda’s combined and is a sure-fired chart topper of a novel about a passionate, childlike, obsessive, ignorant, uncaring, belligerent, stubborn, obstinate, determined, bone idle, drunken and wanton Alternative Music fan (whatever Alternative Music is, of course) for whom the author should be roundly applauded for creating.


 

 

By the time most people hit 30, they've managed to do one of the following things: grow up, meet one of their heroes and move on a bit from the music they were obsessed with at the age of 17. Clive Beresford has failed to do all three. He mopes around, drinking too much, wondering why life has forgotten him, disgusted at the deletion of the bands he loves from the world's musical hard drive, quietly lamenting his never-was career as a music journalist. To make matters worse, his best friend has turned into a boring old fart and his bank account is so empty it's actually developed an echo. But all - or at least some - of that is about to change. One otherwise unremarkable Saturday morning Clive sees the biggest alternative-pop star of them all walking down the high street with his dry-cleaning: Lance Webster, disgraced ex-singer of Thieving Magpies -  “the biggest British band to emerge from the late-eighties indie-boom” according to Rolling Stone Magazine – and  of whom Clive has obsessed since their mysterious break up.

Witty to the point of nearly getting a guy thrown off a bus for spontaneously laughing aloud too frequently, Tim Thornton has indeed created that rare gem: a novel that almost makes a reader believe Lance Webster exists, so deftly are the singer, his band, their hangers-on and their experiences drawn.

If there is one quibble, it is that, on occasions, some of the insight into Clive’s life tends to be a bit overdrawn and so slows to a virtual standstill what is, overall, a slick, fast-paced novel of great style and intelligence.

With “helpful” Suggested Listening tips at the head of every chapter, like 2008’s Mark Davies Markham’s play, Eric’s, this too had the dust being knocked off the vinyl and the turntable being cranked up to its full 33 rpm capacity.

If you don’t Know The Wonderstuff from The Wombles or The Cult from Country it doesn’t matter, because whether you know how to spell Rock CD let alone know what one is supposed to sound like is immaterial in the fresh hands of Thornton, who guides the reader along a path of Beresford’s self-absorption that is quite literally sprinkled with gold.

 


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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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