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Utopia Avenue

by David Mitchell

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4713838,619 (4.07)77
"Soho, London, 1967. Folk-rock-psychedelic quartet Utopia Avenue is formed. Guitarist Jasper de Zoet, a shy, half-Dutch public-school musical prodigy, was hearing voices long before he dropped acid. Keyboardist Elf Holloway must defy the prejudices of her bank manager father, her housewife mother, and her age to forge her own career. Bassist Dean Moss cannot, will not, spend his life on the factory floor like everyone else in Gravesend. Band manager Levon Frankland--gay, Jewish, and Canadian--is not unduly burdened by conscience. The drummer is a drummer. Over two years and two albums, Utopia Avenue navigates the dark end of the Sixties: its parties, drugs and egos, political change and personal tragedy; and the trials of life as a working band in London, the provinces, European capitals and, finally, the promised land of America. What is art? What is fame? What is music? How can the whole be more than the sum of its parts? Can idealism change the world? How does your youth shape your life? This is the story of Utopia Avenue. Not everyone lives to the end"--… (more)
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This was an Audio Book. The reading was horrible. Also i found the story boring, not up to Mitchell's caliber of story telling.
A real disappointment. ( )
  sogamonk | Jan 11, 2021 |
Reading this book started out well - I could not put it down. I liked the characters, I liked the attention to detail of the time and place (late 60s London, struggling musicians in a burgeoning scene) and I liked the authenticity of the discussion of the music - bringing the music of a band to life - in a book where you have words but no sounds - when they sit alongside a great deal of famous music you actually know - is no easy feat. But then it sidesteps into a mystical Stephen King-esque thing, and I wonder, wait is THIS what the book is about, was that all set up but nope it's just a way to indulge the notion that a lot of these stories - between Mitchell's other books are connected.

Probably what had the most negative impact for me were the increasingly frequent encounters with real people from the scene (Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, David Bowie, etc.) who pop up to make overly mannered speeches, or cleverly incorporate their own lyrics into their everyday speech, or otherwise act as ridiculous cartoonish versions of themselves, like asking any one of us to improvise a bit of dialog involving some celebrity. So any sense of authenticity is wiped away progressively as the author relies more and more on these sorts of moments.

( )
  steveportigal | Dec 31, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I unfortunately DNF'ed this book halfway in.

Utopia Avenue is quite a boring book. No likable characters, no interesting plot. The story of this band is not one that I cared much about. The writing is stilted and the dialogue is cringe-worthy. I didn't feel as if the second half of the book would change my mind.
  JaredOrlando | Dec 18, 2020 |
David Mitchell is one of my favorite authors. I have read all of his previous 7 novels and I looked forward to Utopia Avenue. For me it did not disappoint. Of course I am biased being a David Mitchell fan. Utopia Avenue is the name of the 1967-68 fictional English Band that is the subject of Mitchell's 8th novel. The book covers the rise of the band until its ultimate end. Mitchell captures the feel of that time frame. He gets into the head of each of the 3 main singer songwriter members and gives us a full description of the creative process. He includes using real life people from that time such as David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix etc. Some people had a problem with this but I thought it was a great touch. For anyone who came of age musically during this time, this book is a must read. As always Mitchell makes reference to characters from his previous novels. For most part this is a straight novel but Mitchell does introduce the super natural element with Jasper the lead guitarist. This was a bit of a distraction but was not a major part of the book. For those who have never read Mitchell I suggest reading one of his other novels first before tackling Utopia Avenue. For those of you who have never read David Mitchell, please try him out. He is a creative genius who just writes great prose and has a wonderful imagination. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Dec 17, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book surpassed my hopes for it--the purported topic of a 1960s band interested me very little, yet I was sucked into the by Mitchell's writing (as usual). Utopia Avenue isn't straightforward storytelling, but it's also not unique enough to stand up against some of his better novels. I really, really could have done without the description of an acid trip--in San Francisco! That's just not interesting. (Also not interesting/disappointing: the framing device that pops up at the end--so I guess that's actually a single-bookend device.) ( )
  hairball | Dec 7, 2020 |
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Dean hurries past the Phoenix Theatre, dodges a blind man in dark glasses, steps onto Charing Cross Road to overtake a slow-moving woman and pram, leaps a grimy puddle and swerves into Denmark Street where he skids on a sheet of black ice.
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"Soho, London, 1967. Folk-rock-psychedelic quartet Utopia Avenue is formed. Guitarist Jasper de Zoet, a shy, half-Dutch public-school musical prodigy, was hearing voices long before he dropped acid. Keyboardist Elf Holloway must defy the prejudices of her bank manager father, her housewife mother, and her age to forge her own career. Bassist Dean Moss cannot, will not, spend his life on the factory floor like everyone else in Gravesend. Band manager Levon Frankland--gay, Jewish, and Canadian--is not unduly burdened by conscience. The drummer is a drummer. Over two years and two albums, Utopia Avenue navigates the dark end of the Sixties: its parties, drugs and egos, political change and personal tragedy; and the trials of life as a working band in London, the provinces, European capitals and, finally, the promised land of America. What is art? What is fame? What is music? How can the whole be more than the sum of its parts? Can idealism change the world? How does your youth shape your life? This is the story of Utopia Avenue. Not everyone lives to the end"--

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amazon ca :The long-awaited new novel from the bestselling, prize-winning author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks.

Utopia Avenue is the strangest British band you’ve never heard of. Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967, and fronted by folk singer Elf Holloway, blues bassist Dean Moss and guitar virtuoso Jasper de Zoet, Utopia Avenue embarked on a meteoric journey from the seedy clubs of Soho, a TV debut on Top of the Pops, the cusp of chart success, glory in Amsterdam, prison in Rome, and a fateful American sojourn in the Chelsea Hotel, Laurel Canyon, and San Francisco during the autumn of ’68.

David Mitchell’s kaleidoscopic novel tells the unexpurgated story of Utopia Avenue’s turbulent life and times; of fame’s Faustian pact and stardom’s wobbly ladder; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t; of voices in the head, and the truths and lies they whisper; of music, madness, and idealism. Can we really change the world, or does the world change us?
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