December 30, 2007
Okay, I admit that I used to buy albums released on cheesy K-Tel Records. Didn't every kid in the 70s and early 80s? Most were truly awful... here's an example of the sort of commercials (more of which will hopefully be available soon at this site-in-progress) that they used to consistently play on TV :
Particularly awful were these two "novelty song" compilations I remember nearly everyone in grade school, circa '75 or so, owning... I had one called Goofy Greats that mixed horrid music like Ray Stevens' "Ahab the Arab" and Piero Umiliani's "Ma Nah Ma Nah" (possibly the stupidest song ever written--and, god forbid, my high-school chorus teacher in Little River, Kansas actually made us PERFORM that song at public concerts) with the occasional quite respectable bubblegum pop song like the Lemon Pipers' "Green Tambourine" or stuff by the 1910 Fruitgum Company.
Fast forward to the end of the 70s. Punk and New Wave were happening, and K-Tel decided to push out a record devoted to it. And surprisingly, this time they put together a good compilation. The album was called Rock 80 (eight-track tape pictured above). I was in junior high at the time, worshiping The Cars while my most of my friends were listening to the Oak Ridge Boys, and I loved this--it contained truly great stuff like "Driver's Seat" and "Cars" and "One Way or Another," and turned me on to music like Joe Jackson and The Pretenders. (Okay, maybe Pat Benatar and Ian Gomm weren't exactly New Wave, but K-Tel tried.) I'll always remember this album because it came out at a precise turning point in my life--a time when I, and a few other kids from my tiny, 25-person class, became the "New Wavers" and entered a world of dressing differently, getting teased & catcalled at our rather scary local mall, and listening to great music.
What follows are the videos to the songs that made up Rock 80. First, Side One:
Gary Numan, "Cars"
The Pretenders, "Brass In Pocket"
Sniff & The Tears, "Driver's Seat"
Nick Lowe, "Cruel to Be Kind"
Joe Jackson, "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" (couldn't find the promo, so here's the song live)
Pat Benatar, "Heartbreaker"
Blondie, "Call Me"
Ramones, "Do You Remember Rock 'n Roll Radio"
The Knack, "My Sharona"
Cheap Trick, "I Want You To Want Me"
Ian Gomm, "Hold On" (no video, so here's an early live performance)
Blondie, "One Way or Another" (on American Bandstand)
Pat Benatar, "We Live For Love" (segment)
M, "Pop Musik"
December 20, 2007
Time to talk about book stuff for a little bit.
I just got back from New York, where I had a little meeting with the folks at HarperCollins; midway through, my wonderful wonderful new editor Jeanette Perez slipped me a photocopy of my first-ever review for We Disappear, which had just, um, "appeared" that day from Publishers Weekly. I'll copy it in its entirety:
We Disappear Scott Heim. Harper Perennial, $13.95 paper (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-146897-1 Strange and luminous, this fascinating psychological thriller from Heim (In Awe) tackles questions of identity, illness and trauma. Scott, a writer and drug addict, travels back to Kansas from New York City at the request of his ill mother, Donna, who’s become obsessed with missing children. Scott soon finds out that Donna believes she was kidnapped in her youth by an elderly couple who eventually returned her unharmed. This experience has led her to an odd alliance with a boy who leaves candy on Donna’s front porch. When Donna becomes too ill to continue research for a supposed book on disappeared children, Scott, with help from a friend of Donna’s, goes on the road for answers. Taut and beautifully clear, the writing at times recalls that of Paul Auster, but the plot ends in a place less interesting than where it began. The reader may feel that revealing the mundane truth behind Donna’s childhood experiences betrays the essential mystery of all the lost boys and girls described in the novel. (Mar.)
After our meeting, Jeanette and I, along with Heather Drucker, Mara Lander, and Amy Baker, excellent people one and all, trooped through the snow to have a drink at a nearby bar, where I tried to make my martini shoo away the lingering thought of those small but snarky lines about "less interesting" and "mundane truth."
That's the thing about reviews. Even when 95% of one is good, it's the 5% that I (and a lot of other writers I know) will never forget. I can still quote lines from reviews I got in 1995 that upset me. If I were smarter, I'd be more like Michael, who doesn't read a single review of his books. In general, though, I think this PW review is pretty decent, but it's making me feel queasy and apprehensive again, since it's basically been a decade since I've published a new novel.
Speaking of Michael: you can now get Charity Girl in paperback!
(More about New York: It seemed quieter this time than ever before. Maybe it was all the sleet and snow. And, since moving to Boston five years back, I'd forgotten what NYC becomes during holiday season. Parties galore. I met up with a bunch of writer friends, most notably Jon and Vestal, at one, but I don't really remember very much of the last hour of it.... Oh, and congrats to Vestal for selling his new book!)
Tonight (12/19) I also gave my first interview about my novel, for a magazine's March issue. I'll post links when these sort of things come out. And Harper is currently finalizing the dates for my book tour, which I'll also post here and on my Myspace page very soon.
I realize this blog lately has become an endless posting of YouTube and Myspace embeddings, so I guess this diary-like entry is overdue. Happy holidays....
December 19, 2007
I've been in NYC all week, hence the silence. Reports to come. In the meantime, look what I just (shamelessly and self-promotingly) got from the HarperCollins site... click on the link below if you want it too!
December 07, 2007
Five for Friday