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Riffs

The Charts: Top Musical Fiction

#11 The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989) by Oscar Hijuelos Two brothers in Havana live exciting and sometime outrageous lives amid the 1950’s club scene. “One lush, tipsy, all-night mambo of a novel about Cuban musicians in strange places like New York City.” — People “The Fabulous Mambo King. Serenading all the ladies. Miss … continue …


#12 The Wishbones by Tom Perrotta

The Wishbones (1997) by Tom Perrotta A guitar player struggles with his music career and relationships. “The Wishbones is a smart, very funny look at one man’s ambivalence toward adulthood and commitment; it also offers a colorful cast of band mates and an obvious affection for its characters and their music.” — Booklist “It’s got … continue …


#13 King Dork by Frank Portman

King Dork (2006) by Frank Portman A high school outcast channels his energy into his obsession with The Catcher in the Rye, starting a rock band, and investigating the death of his father. “Interspersed with all the plot intricacies are Tom’s, and the author’s, musings, bits of philosophy, rants, and outsider observations, often wickedly funny and … continue …


#14 Stations of the Cross by Robert Dunn

Stations of the Cross (2013) by Robert Dunn A legendary singer-songwriter finds inspiration in the place he once started out from, in the form of a young woman who reminds him of a lost love. “A novel that gives you a true feeling what poetry is all about …” – from Library Thing Early Reviews … continue …


#15 Say Goodbye by Lewis Shiner

“Shiner competently vivifies the uncertainties and boredom of the musician’s life, but more impressively, he manages to convey the almost indescribable joy of bringing an audience from a state of apathy to the edge of hysteria.” — Booklist Lewis Shiner’s site BUY FROM AMAZON (Coral Press gets credit)


#16 Spider Kiss by Harlan Ellison

Spider Kiss (1983) by Harlan Ellison A major work of musical fiction fashioned after the career of Jerry Lee Lewis; originally published as Rockabilly. “Ellison’s players are as finely crafted as ever. They are flawed creatures, some of them beyond redemption, some of them hoping to be more than the sum of their sins, but … continue …


#17 Evening’s Empire by Bill Flanagan

Evening’s Empire (2010) by Bill Flanagan Jack Flynn starts out as a solicitor for a conservative firm in the 60’s, but soon finds himself working in the music business, spanning five decades long. “Assured, often lyrical and true to the world of the star-maker machinery behind the popular song. A lively complement to Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, … continue …


#18 Radio Free Albemuth by Phillip K. Dick

Radio Free Albemuth (1985) by Philip K. Dick A science fiction story about an alternate U.S. history in which the government tries to censor rock music. “[A]n engrossing, non-stop excursion into a believable vision of Hell.” — Publisher’s Weekly “Radio Free Albemuth is easily one of Dick’s most thought-provoking and provocative books. As a novel … continue …


#19 Gone for Good by Mark Childress

Gone for Good (1998) by Mark Childress A rock musician’s plane crashes on a mysterious island during a storm, leaving his fans to mourn his disappearance. “A story that takes off like a 747 and doesn’t let up until the very end.” — San Francisco Examiner Mark Childress’ site BUY FROM AMAZON (Coral Press gets … continue …


#20 Fuel-Injected Dreams by James Robert Baker

Fuel-Injected Dreams (1986) by James Robert Baker This chronicle of the music business in the 1960s is based on the life of Phil Spector. “Defines the raw impulses of a generation!” — New York Daily News “[A]bsolutely brilliant” — blogger drew  BUY FROM AMAZON (Coral Press gets credit)