Joel Lane, Author . Serpent's Tail $15 (215p) ISBN 978-1-85242-618-7

British writer Lane's haunting, angst-ridden debut novel is composed of a pair of intertwining tales, one about a bass player named David Pelsall who joins a rock band called Triangle in the midst of the thriving early '90s gothic band scene in England, the other narrating Pelsall's problematic relationship with Karl, the band's mesmerizing, self-destructive lead singer. The story of the rock band is by far the less interesting of the two, with Lane supplying a standard fill-in-the-blanks story line about the rags-to-riches rise of the band, though he does manage to capture the essence of the musical era while penning some fine, almost poetic prose about the effects of the lyrics and songs on those who follow the music. But David's affair with his tortured band mate constitutes a far more compelling narrative, as the thoroughly smitten bass player struggles to keep from becoming a victim of his partner's episodes of substance abuse, his ongoing bisexual affairs and his bizarre self-destructive tendencies. Both the ending and the over-the-top rock hedonism here will be familiar to many readers, but what sets this book apart is Lane's ability to create two flawed but deeply memorable characters; he writes eloquently about beauty and love as David and Karl struggle to maintain the romantic energy of their obviously ill-fated affair. The arcane nature of the narrow musical setting will doubtless limit this book to a small audience, but the high quality of the prose marks Lane as a writer to watch should he decide to broaden his perspective. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/15/2001
Release date: 10/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
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