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Sway: A Novel by Zachary Lazar

Sway: A Novel (edition 2009)

by Zachary Lazar

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15111112,733 (3.45)24
Title:Sway: A Novel
Authors:Zachary Lazar
Info:Back Bay Books (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library

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Sway by Zachary Lazar

  1. 00
    Patty's Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America by William Graebner (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Both books put the 60s & 70s into a similar cultural critical perspective, one via fiction, the other nonfiction. I highly recommend both.
  2. 00
    Trance by Christopher Sorrentino (susanbooks)

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» See also 24 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
So interesting and it definitely pulls you in- but its also beyond disturbing. ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
Sorry to say I was underwhelmed. Maybe I wouldn't have been if it hadn't been overhyped. As it is, I think I would have preferred to read nonfiction - these guys were wild enough, they don't need to be fictionalized.
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
I honestly don’t know what to make of Sway by Zachary Lazar. On one hand it is a somewhat fictional telling of the early The Rolling Stones and the Charles Manson murders, based on real life and about real people. On the other hand, it’s a dreamlike sort of novel where every human emotion and action is given a significance that isn’t typically true to real life. Purposefully, I think, Lazar wove his words into chaotic (almost) anti-poetry- beautiful because it is raw and aggressive- in order to put this special significance to things. The entire book has a surreal quality that makes it even more difficult to accept the reality of what is happening.

Now, none of this is bad. I quite like a book that reads like a fractured and distorted fairytale. I said I didn’t know what to make of the book, not that I did not like it.

Sway, as I’ve said, takes two different stories and winds them together. Lazar recounts the rise of The Rolling Stones, some of his information falsified but some of it quite true (I‘ve seen the picture of Mick in the Uncle Sam top hat and the Omega t-shirt), and the Charles Manson murders. These two isolated groups and the events included are connected by a thin thread that goes by the name Kenneth Anger. Anger is a struggling film maker whose avant-garde styles of imagery and symbolism make him less than idea for the mainstream, which is just where he seems satisfied to be.

From the way the book describes itself, I was thinking that the two stories would intertwine on a deeper level then they did, and this was a bit disappointing. I guess it was meant to be this way. I gave me to see how things, even great things that seem so grand and therefore isolated within their own distinct worlds, can touch and brush and never impact. How sometimes you just manage to miss something larger than simple life allows without even knowing it.

There are moments, though, that the book is starkly real and you no longer feel the invader of a dream. The characters cease to be actors or players on a grand stage and become actual people, no longer characters but objects of existence just as we all are. Flawed, confused, prone to mistakes, and sometimes empty. Sometimes acting without excuse or reason. Sometimes just inflicting. Brian Jones is an abusive mess who is so out of touch with his own needs that he is self-destructive, Bobby just ambles along and thoughtlessly does whatever he decides to do for no good reason, and Anger doesn’t seem to fight for anything and only exists to make his films.

The anger and escalating chaos of the 60s and 70s is depicted nicely in Sway. Vietnam, militaristic groups, disenchantment with the government and society, and the rejection of the early 60s Summer of Love ideals brought about a new society and destroyed the former not with a whimper but a bang. In fact, many of them. There is a sense, even when reading nonfiction of the time, that America was ready to explode. Indeed, much of the world was. The Rolling Stones and Charles Manson both, in their own ways, embody this feeling. The Rolling Stones is the passion, the rebellion, the new face of youth and expression while Manson is just how bad it can get.

Though if Sway did anything, it made me like The Rolling Stones just a little more. ( )
  morbidromantic | Mar 28, 2009 |
In this fictionalized retelling of some of the more sordid and shocking events of the wild and heady 60s, the mix of sex, drugs, violence, and rock-and-roll is spot-on. Featured characters are some of the iconic figures of the age ~ Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Brian Jones of the Stones, Anita Pallenberg, muse to both Jones and Richards consecutively, Charles Manson and Bobby Beausoleil, and Kenneth Anger, the filmmaker who knew both the Stones and Beusoleil and, thus, was at the center of the novel.

I won't pretend the novel was perfect. For instance, it was often disjointed beyond what it needed to be, and the culmination of Altamont seemed anticlimatic somehow. Yet it managed to achieve the flavor, the paranoia, the fervor of the 60s in a way that has stuck with me since I finished it a week ago.

As I've already noted in other places, I came of age in the late 60s, and, when I say I lived through the 60s, I mean that I experienced most of what those years had to offer. In other words, while certain events shine through the purple haze with the clarity of the noonday sun, I don't clearly remember much about that time as a whole. While reading Sway, I found myself feeling a bit like you do when you remember an old dream you had a long time ago, and you KNOW it's a dream, but you suddenly can't help feeling in some eerie way that maybe it really did happen after all. Or maybe I'm thinking of a flashback.

Either way, I am glad I read this slim novel and am putting on my list to be reread sometime in the next year or so. ( )
  Storeetllr | Mar 22, 2009 |
I just finished reading Sway by Zachary Lazar, a book about sex, drugs, violence and rock and roll. The lives of several young men are weaved together in this unstoppable novel.
The Rolling Stones, Charles Manson, a wanderer named Bobby and an obsessed filmer Kenneth. They are all trying to find themselves and in the process end up finding each other. This novel gives the average, everyday person a glimpse of fame and all the horrors that go along with it.Zachary Sway is able to capture an audience and keep them interested. ( )
  bridget3420 | Mar 21, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316113093, Hardcover)

Three dramatic and emblematic stories intertwine in Zachary Lazar's extraordinary new novel, SWAY--the early days of the Rolling Stones, including the romantic triangle of Brian Jones, Anita Pallenberg, and Keith Richards; the life of avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger; and the community of Charles Manson and his followers. Lazar illuminates an hour in American history when rapture found its roots in idolatrous figures and led to unprovoked and inexplicable violence. Connecting all the stories in this novel is Bobby Beausoleil, a beautiful California boy who appeared in an Anger film and eventually joined the Manson "family." With great artistry, Lazar weaves scenes from these real lives together into a true but heightened reality, making superstars human, giving demons reality, and restoring mythic events to the scale of daily life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:11 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"In the last days of the 1960s, the worlds of the Rolling Stones and Charles Manson accidentally converged at the razor's edge of an era." "Sway is the story of those two forces and how they became entwined. It is the story of the Rolling Stones - from their days beating out their new sound and their new identities in freezing apartments and tiny clubs - focusing on Brian Jones, the first leader of the group, and on his growing confusion and jealousy as his band changed into something else." "It is also the story of a young man named Bobby Beausoleil, a handsome drifter under a dangerous influence. Beausoleil was befriended by the filmmaker Kenneth Anger and appeared along with Mick Jagger in Anger's film Invocation of My Demon Brother. When the film premiered, Beausoleil had been charged with a murder committed under the deranged leadership of Charles Manson, in whose commune he had found a temporary home." "Sway dares to imagine these lives, moving from the innocence and glamour of the young Rolling Stones to the awful events of 1969 - Brian's drowning in his mansion's swimming pool, the murder of a fan at the Stones concert at Altamont, and the Manson murders. Zachary Lazar weaves these scenes from real lives together into a true but heightened reality, making superstars human and demons palpable and restoring mythic events to the scale of daily life."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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