THE OTHER LIFE OF BRIAN

Graham Parker, Author
Graham Parker, Author . Thunder's Mouth $13.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-56025-549-9
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Few authors are as qualified as British singer-songwriter Parker (formerly the front man for the Rumour) to explore the fate of a one-hit wonder after the glow of fame fades away, but Parker's second novel (after The Great Trouser Mystery ) is an erratic, overwritten account of a has-been rock star's tours to such unlikely locales as Sweden, Greenland and Tasmania. Brian Porker is Parker's musical alter ego—a cynical, middle-aged former front man for the Soulbilly Shakers, who lives in Vermont in idyllic semiretirement with his wife. When the royalties from Porker's cheeky '70s hit single about having sex while standing up begin to fizzle out, Porker's scurrilous agent, Tarquin Steed, convinces him to tour some backwater locations to boost his cash flow. The tour gets off to a bizarre start: Porker is approached by a Baha'i religious leader, and her followers track him throughout the novel after they notice his physical resemblance to their founder. Meanwhile, the Swedish leg of the tour is a qualified success, and Porker finds himself signed on for follow-up ventures to Tasmania and Greenland. The strained musical scenes are desultory, and Parker adds a silly subplot (Porker and his quirky soundman, Carruthers, acquire a rare marsupial dog coveted by a wealthy English nobleman). Parker pens a few funny chapters, but his florid, overblown writing requires the underpinning of a more compelling plot, and while Porker is a solid character, he's not up to carrying the novel. (Nov.)

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