Dream On

Whenever we hear about a new rock novel, we flinch, reliving the misery of Don DeLillo’s Great Jones Street anew — what the hell was he doing there? Forget the Great American Novel: The Great Rock Novel is the most elusive prize in letters. Although we firmly believe Frank Portman is destined to wear that crown at some future date (if he isn’t already, thanks to King Dork) in the interim we have “Lost Coast,” which might be the Great Rock Short Story That Takes Place in Present-Day San Francisco. “Lost Coast” hits all the right marks, with a music blogger at odds with a young, tortured singer-songwriter on the cusp of indie greatness. Author Will Boast gets the scene right — part of the story is set in Hyde Street Studios — as he should: He’s been part of it, playing with local bands such as Stringer Belle and Fox & Woman, among others. He also gets the writing right — emotion quietly reverberates in delicate scenes written with an easy hand, tension crackling on the low end (you see what we did there) — as he also should: Boast was a Stegner Fellow in fiction at Stanford. Jealous yet? How about now: Every other story in Power Ballads is about music, too, all kinds of music; radio crap-rock, jazz, country, polka, and DJ beats, and it won the Iowa Short Fiction Award. It’s a good thing nobody told Boast it’s too hard to write about music.
Mon., Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m., 2011

 
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