cover image Whale Music

Whale Music

Paul Quarrington. Doubleday Books, $17.95 (226pp) ISBN 978-0-385-26772-4

This nimble portrait of a rock 'n' roll legend turned Beverly Hills eccentric will amuse anyone who's followed the misfortunes of real-life ex-superstars. Ludicrously obese, plagued by tinnitus and suffering from apparent short-term memory loss, Desmond Howell (of the famed '60s Howl Brothers) is unlikely to make a comeback anytime soon. In semi-permanent mourning over the death of his brother Danny, he contents himself with puttering around his mansion, locking the doors (except when he forgets) against pushy psychologists, fans, ex-bandmates and relatives. Stephen Leacock award-winning humorist Quarrington's ( King Leary ) prose is fleet throughout, tracing the Howl Brothers from their origins as a Southern California teenage garage band through their glory days (where Elvis, the Beatles and Bill Haley make cameo appearances) to Desmond's current state of proud dissipation. The result is a tasty brew of rumors and modern myths from the rock era, with a flavor all its own. (Feb.)