Saturday, 12 January 2008

The Dirty Beat - by Venero Armanno

Okay, this is one great read, especially if you're a Brisbanite who digs real music and a good tale. Dr Venero Armanno is a much-celebrated creative writing teacher and is in fact the Head of Creative Writing at the University of Queensland. I haven't read any of his previous novels, but I definitely want to now, because The Dirty Beat is an absolute cracker.

This is the tale of a rock and jazz drummer, Max, who has died at the age of 50 while dancing with a young girl at a rock gig. The narration is undertaken by Max's spirit as he observes his funeral, his friends and reflects on his past. He holds a dialogue with the characters of his past, sometimes one-way, sometimes two. This is an original (I think?) and clever writing device that allows Max to tell his life story in a very real, yet reflective and almost sentimental way. It works very well and adds an edge to the novel - an edge that gels very well with the world of music in Brisbane's underbelly in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Armanno has created a diverse array of interesting characters which is probably the most important factor in this kind of work.

This book brought tears to my eyes a number of times, because I truly felt it. Or maybe just because I'm an overly emotional freak. Anyway, I think this means that it is very well written! Anyway, there is more information including reviews, a note from Venero Armanno and a video trailer on the MySpace page. I wish I had been to the book launch...

Enough from me, except to say that I wish I was a good writer :(

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