Jim Klopfenstein (klopfens) Tue 2 Dec 03 11:08
I just bought the book last night and have read through Part One. Based on the first third of the book, I'd recommend it to anyone who appreciates serious fiction in the vein of Stone, Kesey or Kerouac. I wonder, Max, if the ties to "going on tour" will limit the audience for such a deserving book. Did your editor or publisher ever suggest reworking it to make it just a "road" book without the explicit link to the Deadhead subculture?
Max Ludington (maxludington) Wed 3 Dec 03 09:16
Thanks for all the words folks. Thanks Adam for your kind note. I agree that the Deads music and scene was more setting than subject for the book, which is what I intended of course. Ill try to answer your questions. I havent read Narcissus and Goldmund, but I like the ideas you bring up. I did almost no writing at all back in my Deadhead days. I was always reading, but not always writingyeah a few poems here and there, really awful stuff, but not much more. I have, thank God, been blessed with a very vivid and compendious memory (despite the decimation of brain cells I engaged in) which is really what saved me. My last Grateful Dead shows were in Chicago, in 1992. Then I saw a few JGB shows in 1994 at the Warfield, and that was the last time I saw Jerry. I have gone to a bunch of the new Dead shows, and have really enjoyed myself. A few of them have been smoking showswhen theyre hot, theyre still hot, I think. I am a Jimmy Herring fan, and love that hes not trying to be Garcia. Phish? I never got into them. Maybe I havent given them enough of a chance, but I havent felt drawn to them at all. They seem to have a very different estheticless serious in some sense, no ballads or sadness or history mixed in with the craziness, that I have heard. But then again I dont know their music very well. I guess there will always be a new frontier, someone just has to find it. Maybe they already have. Im not at all sure anything could have stopped Jerry from his slide, but you never knowthere are a lot of what ifs. Okay Steve: (Yes there was one negative review, and a few mixed ones, but a preponderance of overwhelmingly positive stuff, which was great). I guess I havent focused on any particular thing that people have missed. Its cool how different people catch different things, and the stuff that jumps out and ends up being important to different people. Its interesting and gratifying. I guess I wish more people had remarked on the character of Harry, who I worked on very hard and was deeply involved in. --Thanks again Izzie. --And Jim, no, the publisher never tried to get me to take out the Dead. And I think they did a great job of trying to make sure the book wasnt pigeonholed as a Dead book, though a certain amount of that was probably inevitable. Over time I hope the audience for it growsmaybe with the paperback release next year
Adam Perry (adamice9) Wed 3 Dec 03 11:44
I'm even more impressed now because because I felt so much Hesse flowing through your book and you havent read "Narcissus and Goldmund." Cant wait to read what you write next... And Max, we've got to get you a really great, deep, dark Phish show on disc! I was down on them for a long time (and for the same reasons)as well, until I gave them a chance.
her thing is jade and mine bamboo (sd) Wed 3 Dec 03 12:46
My daughter, Chantal, and I discussed Harry's character some. We both liked the way he provided counterpoint to the deadheads, kinda like reverse comic relief. The way his role matured along with the unveiling of the backstory worked really well for me,too. The description of throwing up on junk was a favorite bit.
Jim Klopfenstein (klopfens) Thu 4 Dec 03 08:32
I finished the book late last night, and my very high opinion of it <26> didn't change. There was one thing I didn't get. Can someone fill me in on the meaning of "Good morning, Mr. Benson"?
weird and conflicted and all resentful and shit (izzie) Thu 4 Dec 03 09:23
Isn't Mr. Benson doing fine? and if I had me a shotgun, wouldn't I want to blow him straight to hell?
A Rocket and a Bomb (tinymonster) Thu 4 Dec 03 09:25
And if I had a rocket launcher-- No, wait, that's somebody else.
David Gans (tnf) Thu 4 Dec 03 09:43
Jim, it's from this verse of CANDYMAN: I come in from Memphis where I leant to talk the jive When I get back to Memphis, be one less man alive Good morning, Mister Benson I see you're doing well If I had me a shotgun, I'd blow you straight to hell
Jacques Delaguerre http://www.delaguerre.com/delaguerre/ (jax) Thu 4 Dec 03 10:06
But ... but ... who's Tennessee Jed? :-)
Gary Lambert (almanac) Thu 4 Dec 03 10:11
Jacques Delaguerre http://www.delaguerre.com/delaguerre/ (jax) Thu 4 Dec 03 10:12
You've ruined my day! :-) That was one of my favorite rhetorical questions for almost two decades. Now I can't use it, knowing that there actually is an answer to it ...
Jim Klopfenstein (klopfens) Thu 4 Dec 03 11:20
Thanks, all. I actually knew that song once--it wasn't a favorite--but probably haven't heard it in many years. I googled the phrase, and it was interesting how various the hits were. I expected to see it somewhere in a GD lyric, but if it came up that way, it wasn't obvious. I strongly feel this is a book for the general literate reader, so the fact that the phrase was a lyric probably should have been made clearer. That it was from a GD song was my guess, but I discounted it because Ted (who is in the lot at a Dead show) apparently doesn't get it either (I don't have the book with me, so I may be confusing the character's name or the context). Or has the phrase made its way into the culture like "what a long strange trip it's been" and somehow I just missed it?
David Gans (tnf) Thu 4 Dec 03 11:26
I'd say it's a solid reference for anyone who really knows GD music, but it's not something a civilian would catch.
David Dodd (ddodd) Thu 4 Dec 03 13:23
Civilian! Wonderful. Max--chiming in late here, but I want to say how much I like your writing. Also: did you read Philip Baruth's The Millennium Shows? Also a fine piece of fiction utlizing the touring scene.
Adam Perry (adamice9) Thu 4 Dec 03 15:17
For lack of a better phrase, The Millenium Shows is some crazy shiznit
Darrell Jonsson (jonsson) Fri 5 Dec 03 02:31
Amazon has posted a generous set of pages from this book to browse. http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0385507046/ref=sib_dp_pt/103-9247880-4917452#r eader-link There must be other gateways for this (my general opinion of Amazon is mixed)...but Amazon also offers digital download of this title. The chapter Amazon has on it's page is a grizly description of an Acid tripper getting busted. The description is brutal as real life, Ludington captures the astonishment and evil of such an occassion with remarkable clarity. My copy of 'Tiger in a Trance' is on order (not via Amazon though).
Max Ludington (maxludington) Fri 5 Dec 03 08:43
Thanks again to all who've chimed in. It's great to see the "Mr. Benson" line getting some play. I thought about making it clearer, but figured there should be one or two Deadhead insider references-- I mean hell, so many books and poems have literary and biblical references that only scholars would pick up on fully. And Adam, I have read some Hesse (Steppenwolf and Siddhartha), just not Narcissus. So maybe some of it crept in as those things do. I have not read The Millenium Shows, but did read the excerpt from it in the Grateful Dead Reader, and liked it. I couldn't find a copy, but I guess if I looked a little harder maybe.
Steve Silberman (digaman) Fri 5 Dec 03 09:12
Max: One of the things that always bothered me about media coverage of the Dead scene that insisted that the whole thing was a "throwback to the '60s" was that it seemed clear to me that the younger generations of Deadheads were having a very different experience of their relationship to the Zeitgeist than the original hippies. You express the nuances of this very well in your book, and one of my favorite passages in it -- so virtuosic it's hilarious -- is your riff on the Converse brand of sneakers. That kind of capitalist eros would have been unimaginable or offensive to the original Deadheads. What cultural differences between First Generation Deadheads and later generations are generally overlooked in mainstream accounts of the scene?
beneath the blue suburban skies (aud) Fri 5 Dec 03 09:33
I don't know, Steve, but I bet plenty of "original Deadheads" wore Converses as they were (are) cheap and comfy. Max, if you don't mind my asking. how much of what you wrote was gleaned from personal experiences? I always knew that the drugs of choice changed dramatically with the years...but by '85 I was long past hanging out much pre and especially post shows, with the exception of the cruise around looking at t-shirts before the show. Did you live on the road at all, like your main character?
Steve Silberman (digaman) Fri 5 Dec 03 11:10
It wasn't wearing the Converses; it was thinking of them as an expression of idiosyncratic personal virtue, which would have been anathema to the first hippies. Max expresses this very wittily in a kind of rhapsody on the psychological resonances of the brand name.
No hablo Greenspaņol (sd) Fri 5 Dec 03 17:51
birks otoh... but, i'll cop to being a converse guy in the 68-72ish period, a red pair until they wore out then a green pair...occasional return to boots in the winter but i recall the feeling of sliding over an ice covered gravel road in all-stars and on little orange barrels. i thought the mr benson thing was punched pretty hard but guessed it was point it out to folks who didnt recognize it as part of their second language.
Max Ludington (maxludington) Sat 6 Dec 03 09:40
I don't really know, Steve, exactly what those differences might be, but I'm sure they paralleled societal and pop-culture changes somewhat. It's funny thinking about that Converse thing, now that Nike has bought Converse. Hmmm... I do recall overhearing, years ago, an argument between an older former hippie and a young somewhat jaded Deadhead--the hippie saying "you think you know what it was like back in the 60s, but you don't and never will." and the head saying something like, "I don't really care. I don't live for the past, if that's what you think." Anyway... In answer to the question about my Deadhead life, Yes, I did live on the road, on tour, for about 2 years straight, then doing on-and-off tour for a few years after that. There's a lot of fiction in the book, but even the fictional elements are drawn from truthful raw material. I did not write about drugs I hadn't done-- I experienced all the chemical journeys my narrator did, many of them in greater depth than I wrote about.
David Gans (tnf) Sat 6 Dec 03 10:14
I was stunned when I started hearing about heroin on tour in the mid-'80s. I don't know why I was surprised, but I was.
beneath the blue suburban skies (aud) Sat 6 Dec 03 10:25
I was never surprised about that, seeing as how Jerry goes (went) so go (went) a lot of his followers... Max, I'm glad you're still around to tell tales. I found so much of what you wrote fascinating, since despite going on tour for years, I never "lived" on tour. I took vacation time; stayed in motels. Never sold a thing in a parking lot. Never bought drugs in a parking lot, either. There's a lot of that whole on-tour experience I never got into, and am still glad I never made it about anything more than the music. But am still fascinated by it all, as I was then.
David Gans (tnf) Sat 6 Dec 03 10:34
> I was never surprised about that, seeing as how Jerry goes (went) so go > (went) a lot of his followers... Yeah, I know. Lord knows, we all felt it was okay to do mounds of blow...
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