Guitar Man

Will Hodgkinson, Author Da Capo Press $16.95 (292p) ISBN 978-0-306-81514-0
After hearing ""Anji,"" a beautiful acoustic-guitar piece written and recorded by 1960s British folkie Davey Graham, Hodgkinson made it his goal to learn the instrument and perform in front of an audience within six months, kicking off a physical, mental and (arguably) transcendental journey that's eminently readable. A British thirty-something freelance journalist, Hodgkinson uses his industry connections to seek guitar lessons from the likes of Roger McGuinn, Johnny Marr (formerly of The Smiths), alt-rocker PJ Harvey and Graham himself. A less capable writer could have come off sounding narcissistic, but Hodgkinson's witty, self-effacing style goes down easy, inviting comparison to American pop-culture writer Chuck Klosterman. His penchant for digression is similarly Klostermanian: his touching and scathing observations during a road trip through America in search of the blues, his infuriating and heartbreaking encounter with aging cult hero Les Paul and his colorful portrayal of others along his journey make Hodgkinson's efforts to learn the guitar seem almost incidental. Particularly endearing are the straight-laced new dad and the wasted hippie who join Hodgkinson to make his Double Fantasy band. Pop culture fans will get almost as much out of this narrative as frustrated musicians; Hodgkinson's struggles with his labor of love are highly relatable, as is his conclusion that joy can, indeed, be found in the journey.
Reviewed on: 01/01/2007
Release date: 12/01/2006
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