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Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel by…
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Seven-Inch Vinyl: A Rock and Roll Novel

by Donald Riggio

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Let me start by saying I enjoyed Donald Riggio's "Seven-Inch Vinyl, A Rock and Roll Novel." Though the setting begins about a decade before I discovered rock, and it took place largely in New York rather than my home state of New Jersey, I easily identified with the vibe. Many of the characters were types, but they were types familiar to me. I listened to some of the radio stations and music personalities he mentions. I felt the genuineness of the ethnic neighborhoods that mirrored those I knew in my youth. I enjoyed the literary conceit of inventing characters like Teddy Boyette, whose background, musical growth, and demise echoed both Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly, while including both of these legends within the book; and, apparently, the black girl-group, the Pixies, was an analogue to the Supremes, even while including the Supremes themselves within the groups that occupy Riggio's musical universe. And, I enjoyed the story of Joe Rabinowitz, who saw the future of rock and roll, built his future on the early sounds of doo-wop, R&B, and country, but lost it when he failed to realize the significance of the British invasion of the '60s.

But the book has more than its share of problems. Chief among them is sloppy editing and, apparently, an over-reliance on a computer spell checker. Riggio confuses the word "past" and "passed"; commas are used when they should not be, and not used when they should; words are capitalized willy-nilly; and I nearly fell out of my chair when he describes Tom Jones as a "torch singer from the country of Whales." That's Wales, Don.

Studies have shown that American students have only modest awareness of their country's history. When I was in high school, we didn't get past World War II. While Riggio's characters are naturally subject to the history and technology of their times (dealing with the Payola scandal; discussing the 1960 presidential election; suffering through the Kennedy assassinations; trying to avoid the draft for Vietnam and dealing with the aftermath of military service), there is too much historical and technical exposition. Was it necessary to talk about the technology, invention, and social implications of the eight-track tape? Do we need the historical backgrounds of the Cuban missile crisis, America's involvement in Vietnam, and the 1968 Chicago riots? These passages, which go on for several pages each, seem like padding.

But, it's a nice story, and the characters have the appropriate human strengths and frailties. Some simple fixes could make it a better book and garner another star in the ratings. ( )
  fromkin | Jun 26, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 143276702X, Paperback)

In 1953, the entire world waited for an explosion. The United States and The Soviet Union both possessed a weapon that could blow the planet to bits. But when the explosion finally did come, it wasn't from an Atom Bomb blast-but from the birth of rock and roll music.

Seven-Inch Vinyl chronicles the evolution of rock and roll between the years 1953-1969. An interesting array of fictional characters takes the reader on a remarkable journey from the rural landscapes of Kentucky where Rhythm and Blues is on the rise to the juke joints of Memphis as R&B meets country to create the Rockabilly sound. From there travel north to the bustling metropolitan cities of Cleveland and New York where the vocal harmonies from singing groups seems to occupy every street corner. The British Invasion of performers in the mid-sixties threatens the very life of the American music scene. But bolstered by the founding of Motown, and the emerging folk scene from Greenwich Village to Haight-Ashbury, a rock and roll revival rejuvenates past careers and re-kindles the popularity of its early days.

Told against a backdrop of racism, political unrest, war and assassination, the narrative blends actual historic events with music history to demonstrate how rock and roll changed the lives of generations of young men and women to forge the course of the nation and the world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:40 -0400)

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