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Riffs

The Charts: Top Musical Fiction

#1 Glimpses by Lewis Shiner

Glimpses (1993) by Lewis Shiner A rock music aficionado finds a way to time travel and record some of the greatest moments in the history of the genre. “A pop-music fairy tale linking the Beatles to Bruno Bettelheim.” — The Village Voice “In the telling of Ray’s story, Lewis Shiner reflects the mythic nature of … continue …


#2 High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

High Fidelity (1995) by Nick Hornby A record store owner obsesses over his collection and uses it as therapy to deal with his recent heartbreak. “Hornby’s amazingly accomplished debut should definitely appeal to music fans (and snobs), but it’s his literate, painfully honest riffs on romantic humiliation and heartbreak that make the book so special.” … continue …


#3 Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon

Telegraph Avenue (2012) by Michael Chabon Longtime friends and bandmates worry about the impending doom a megastore may cause for their record store, while navigating the trails and tribulations of their individual lives and struggling to keep their friendship in tact. “The novel’s central metaphor is jazz, soul and funk music: how it saturates the … continue …


#4 A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010) by Jennifer Egan The story of a former punk musician/record executive and the troubled young woman that he employs. “Although shredded with loss, “A Visit From the Goon Squad” is often darkly, rippingly funny. Egan possesses a satirist’s eye and a romance novelist’s heart.” – Will Blythe for … continue …


#5 The Commitments by Roddy Doyle

The Commitments (1987) by Roddy Doyle A Dublin musician uses James Brown as an inspiration to form his own band to describe the sorrows of his countrymen. “This cheeky first novel by a Dublin native, punctuated with Irish obscenities and quotes from soul classics, informed by righteous working-class anger and youthful alienation, offers the entertaining … continue …


#6 Great Jones Street by Don DeLillo

Great Jones Street (1973) by Don DeLillo The story of a rock musician similar to Dylan who leaves the tour bus to settle in the East Village. “Luminous…finally, a novel that understands rock and roll!” — Jon Pareles, The Village Voice Literary Supplement “My personal favourite is Great Jones Street about the reclusive rock star … continue …


#7 Meet the Annas by Robert Dunn

Meet the Annas (2007) by Robert Dunn After success with a come-back song, The Annas group is devastated by the death of Anna and the ensuing investigation. “This is a fully musical work of literature, a book with a beat so good you could almost dance to it.” — author David Hajdu (Positively Fourth Street) … continue …


#8 The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. Martin

The Armageddon Rag (1983) by George R. R. Martin Two members of a rock band are murdered and a journalist decides to investigate. “[The Armageddon Rag] It highlights what was cool and significant in the sixties to show us why there are people who miss it so much they’ll do anything to get it back…” … continue …


#9 Sway by Zachary Lazar

Sway (2008) by Zachary Lazar A chronicle of the best and worst of the 1960s music scene and culture. “Lazar has created a powerful, infernal prism through which to view the potent, still-rippling contradictions of the late ’60s.” — Los Angeles Times Book Review “Lazar writes extremely well and provides a fascinating take on the … continue …


#10 Southern Cross the Dog by Bill Cheng

Southern Cross the Dog (2013) by Bill Cheng A boy’s journey through the Deep South after losing everything in the Great Flood of 1927. “You won’t mistake “Southern Cross the Dog” for the work of an untalented writer. Mr. Cheng creates memorable characters, and he can cast a spell.” – Dwight Garner for the New … continue …