Sunday, November 28, 2010
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Published twenty-one years apart the covers are spookily similar, but they don't have much else in common. (You can see how far cover printing technology has come in that time – the embossed vinyl effect on the more recent title is a lot more convincing.)
Toby Litt's okay are a moderately successful Canadian indie band and this is their story from school-days formation up to and beyond the death of guitarist crab twenty years later. The story is narrated by the drummer – clap (the other members are singer syph and bassist mono) – who is, handily for Litt, the most sober and self-aware of the group.
Although the book manages to stay entertaining through all the overdoses, break-ups and excesses, what really makes it a great read are the two or three key moments related, which bring a depth and humanity to the story. Plenty is borrowed and modified from well-known rock myths – the fishing obsessed band member and the giving away of a suitcase of money to name two I noticed – and half the fun is spotting the ones you know, but it only really works because of the skilful way he has created a bunch of people that seem real, not like rock stars.
Also smart is the way Litt neatly side-steps the key point of what they actually sound like, letting you hear your own soundtrack. For what its worth, I thought they would sound a bit like a cross between Coldplay and Snow Patrol. (Coldpatrol or Snow Play maybe?) Horrific I know, but don't let that put you off reading the book.