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Gary Benchley, Rock Star

Paul Ford, Author
Paul Ford, Author . Plume $14 (291p) ISBN 978-0-452-28663-4
Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
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Recent college grad Gary Benchley leaves dull-but-secure Albany for the rock hopeful's paradise of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in Harper's editor Ford's debut. By day, Gary slaves as a temp at consultancy BrandSolve. In his off hours, he forms Schizopolis, Brooklyn's most diverse indie-prog band, with his gay co-worker on synth, a black music journalist on bass and a "hot chick" drummer. Gently mimicking MTV's Behind the Music , Ford follows Schizopolis as it comes together, does small gigs, signs with a small label, records an album and sets out in a van to tour as an opening act. Girlfriend Para, a few years older, obsessively blogs each stage of her and Gary's tepid romance, talks of pregnancy and performs potential groupie cock-blocks, while bandmate Katherine sends sparks Gary's way. Ford, who is also an NPR commentator, nicely captures the smalltown feeling of Williamsburg, where the 20-something rock and arts scenes are incestuous, shallow and deadly serious. Gary's first person is breezy and believable (the novel was first serialized online with Gary's byline, and people wrote in to cheer him on), and the rock minutiae, immature personae and clotted relationships are dead-on. For anyone now in their 30s with past musical ambitions, it's a funny, rueful read. (Oct.)

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