Thank You, Goodnight by Andy Abramowitz (5 out of 5)

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This book took me 10 days to get read. It is an outstanding little, funny, heartwarming read. My problem is that I got the Internet problems fixed and am back online. And as usual, distracted by social media and those who haunt it frequently. So, that translates to a lot of things not getting done- like reading and writing as much. So, going to try to get back on the horse a bit and do some more reviews. This is another advance coming out in June, 2015, from Simon & Schuster. I was sold on the description describing it as “High Fidelity meets Almost Famous”. Well, I didn’t quite have that exact impression. Let me explain.

Teddy Tremble is the former lead singer of Tremble, a one-hit wonder band from the 90’s that won a ton of acclaim, Grammys, and an Academy Award for its megahit “It Feels Like A Lie”, but imploded after its second album went off the rails, along with the band members. Teddy’s now on the road to 40 and working as a lawyer for a respectable firm, and sharing his apartment with a woman who may just be “The One”. He gets a phone call from an old friend who tells him to fly to London and see his “legacy hanging on a wall at the Tate”. Sara, Teddy’s girlfriend, tells him he should go, so he flies to London. What he sees enrages him. One of his “fans” has a photography exhibit entitled “Faded Glory: Where Do They Go When They Have Nowhere To Go?”. Teddy’s part of the exhibit; the photograph shown catches him midway through a nacho feast, when the nachos went to pieces all over his shirt, a stupid look upon his face, and the final insult- cilantro stuck between his teeth, caught in bitter glory by the photographer. Teddy goes a little crazy and finds out where the artist lives and flies to Switzerland, where he resides, and proceeds to confront him, and beat the crap out of him, if needed. Teddy finds out that the artist really did not mean it in the spirit in which he took it, and after several altercations in which he ends up high as a kite at the local Swiss dentist, he and the artist make amends. More importantly, he finds out that there is a large contingent of fans- in Switzerland! They bombard him with questions, hassle him with questions about a reunion and what happened to the members of the band, and pepper their interactions with crazy, sincere compliments. Teddy flies back home with new thoughts of the band’s glory days awakening again in his mind. He takes a leave of absence from the law firm he works for, and reaches out to the other members of the band: Warren Warren, Jumbo Jett, and MacKenzie. Warren Warren (a man who now has a respectable job as a teacher and a family, to boot) isn’t receptive to the idea, Jumbo Jett (a man living with his ex wife and her current husband in the basement of THEIR house), and MacKenzie Highsider (a sex therapist who seems to not want to do the reunion), although she ends up jamming with Teddy anyway. Eventually, after Teddy gets their former producer, world renown Sonny Rivers, to listen to a jam tape he made (a jam tape!), Sonny tells him that band MUST reunite because he still has relevant music and lyrics. Teddy goes about persuading the members, who finally, in individual and hilarious fashions, succumb to Teddy’s unique methods of convincing them that this is their second chance at stardom that eluded them. Teddy gets their old publicist Alaina on board once she hears the demos, and then he has to break the news to Sara, his girlfriend. That introduces another arc to the story.

What is Sara Rome’s deal anyway? She has a successful career and has been living with Teddy for quite some time, but he has to find out from a neighbor that she had a son who died young. She does confess, but she then clams out and locks Teddy out, to some degree. There’s also the small matter that she’s still legally wed to her dead son’s father, so she’s not technically free to perhaps have a more lasting commitment to Teddy down the road. Sara is a mystery through much of the novel. Teddy breaks it to her, and she actually takes it better than he thought. Sara is a bit worried because Teddy will be in such close proximity to Mackenzie, because his fling with MacKenzie killed his first marriage. Both Teddy and Sara have scars, and both are sometimes reluctant to share truth with each other, putting doubts in both minds and strain on the relationship. I have to say, I like Sara’s character a lot. She doesn’t really put pressure on Teddy, she pretty much just asks him questions that should be answered, and is pretty blunt in the process, but she never shies away from anything in regards to their relationship, except for the death of her son. (Yes, it is addressed later in the book. And what a scene that is). So while Teddy is going through this trip down memory lane, including reuniting with his former bandmate with whom he’d had a short fling and whom he thinks he still has feelings for, Sara is going it alone for much of his nostalgia tour. And she handles it better than most of us crazy women would. So- seriously- I think Sara Rome is probably my favorite character. And Alaina, the publicist/manager, as well. Simply because every time she begins a sentence to Teddy or any of the other members of Tremble, she uses a term of endearment that is a delicious food, drink, or something equally bizarre that should not be used as a form of address to anyone (example: My little cheese blintze). She’s crazy, crazy, crazy, and definitely my other favorite character.

The members of Tremble? I think Teddy is great because you can almost sense that what he’s going through is almost a mid-life crisis, but Abramowitz doesn’t write it as that. You feel like Teddy is having a serious crisis of faith- did he give up on his band too easily? Did he give up on MacKenzie too easy? Is Sara “The One”? Can he convince them to give it another shot, despite two of the three band members having reservations? I liked Jumbo Jett, because you can see that despite being a clumsy, overloaded, hygienically challenged (the hair and beard are unruly, and he spends a portion of a cross-country ride scratching himself and thinking he has pubic lice) oaf, he has a heart of gold. And a stomach of iron, because he would have to when he’s inhaling Southern Comfort the way he does. I like Warren Warren because he stood up for his family’s honor and his new life, only to give into that little voice that wonders “What if we had another shot?”. MacKenzie is a cute, intelligent girl who just wants to jam, despite the career. Together, they’re like a family unit. I would have to say that I consider them ONE. And in that, if other readers get that vibe, Abramowitz has accomplished what he set out to do writing this book, and written a heartwarming, funny look at love, life, and second chances that often aren’t there for most of us.

I agree that there are definite shades of “High Fidelity“, but I think crossing that with “Almost Famous“, may be a bit off. High Fidelity definitely, but Almost Famous, from my memory of the movie, was more about the disenchantment of behind the scenes, groupies, band tensions, egos, drugs and alcohol. There are some spots of that here, but I felt like this book had more HEART than the “Almost Famous” movie had. When I got through seeing that movie (multiple times), I just felt gutted. At the conclusion of this novel, I felt rejuvenated. Happy. Satisfied at the ending of the story of Tremble. There is one big shocker, but it ties the story together so flawlessly it is absolutely necessary to the outcome. And bravo to Abramowitz for not taking this story in a clichéd direction. This book does for me with music what Michael Chabon did for me with comics in “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier And Clay”. It is funny, light, and yes, there are some dark and somber, intense moments, but there’s are so many good vibes rolling through this book that there’s no way you can ignore them. And you shouldn’t. You should get on the stick and begin putting it on your TBR lists. Immediately. Or pre-order it, so you have it when it comes home. And prepare yourself for a great, fun read.

Thank You, Goodnight is out in June, 2015 by Touchstone Books (Simon & Schuster).

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~ by generationgbooks on March 14, 2015.

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