cover image Song for Chance

Song for Chance

John Van Kirk. Red Hen Press (CDC, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (296p) ISBN 978-1-59709-267-8

Van Kirk’s debut novel is a passionate, elegiac tale about the excesses of sex, drugs, and rock and roll over a tortured musician’s lifetime. Middle-aged rock star Jack Voss leaves his home in Carmel, Calif., in July 2004 to visit old friends in New York City, only to discover that his daughter Chance has just died in an apparent suicide pact inside a Hoboken flat, along with her boyfriend, Fadil al Muti. Chance’s friend Neil Webster is found alive at the scene, having failed to go through with the pact, and Jack later meets with him in prison, where he’s being held on suspicion of having murdered Chance and Fadil. Jack also has an awkward, hostile visit with his ex-wife, Chance’s mother Avery, who says of their past together, “We’ve got quite a history.” Flashbacks prove her point, showing Avery as Jack’s childhood sweetheart and later, as the shrewd manager of his rock band Vossimilitude. Chance’s death reawakens Jack’s bitter memories of how his 1974 rock opera The Enchanted Pond, which ends with a triple suicide, inspired several teenage fans to kill themselves, and drives him to try to unravel Chance’s motives for killing herself. An invented discography, excerpts of lyrics, and cameos by real-life figures like Nick Cave give a feeling of authenticity to Van Kirk’s fictional rock star. Agent: Deborah Schneider, Gelfman Schneider. (Aug.)