Book Reviews

This page is for brief book reviews of books about or with content regarding the Beach Boys or Brian Wilson. Feel free to contribute your own review, all you have to do is mail it to me.


by Lewis Shiner
published 1995
reviewed by Steven Dunn, March 96

Rating: 2 out of 5 as a novel, 4.5 out of 5 for those interested in Brian Wilson.

Glimpses can best be described as a fantasy rock music novel.

The star, Ray Shacklefield discovers he has a talent for regressing in time and being able to call forward and record pop masterpieces that never happened. The book goes into how he gets the music for bootleg releases by an LA producer, how this changes his own life and in particular the breakdown of his marriage.

During the course of the book he goes back to record Get Back by the Beatles (the album that became Let It Be), helps Jim Morrison and Brian Wilson record The Celebration of the Lizard and Smile respectively, and how he tries to get Jimi Hendrix to comple te First Rays of the New Rising Sun (his final album that was unfinished when he died).

As a Brian Wilson fan I found the chapters on Brian and Smile very illuminating. Ray goes back to 1966 where he visits and then befriends Brian after going to his Laurel Way home. He also meets the main protagonists of the time eg Anderle, Parks, Hutton, Love, Marilyn and Dianne etc. Lewis Shiner puts across what it must have been like to meet and know Brian in 1966, as though he was actually there. I have read interviews from the likes of Anderle and Parks but I think Shiner has given me a better 'feel' of the time.

Clearly Shiner has done some good research, and Domenic Priore is in the credits, so I recommend this book to Brian Wilson fans.


by Paul Quarrington
published 1990
reviewed by Steven Dunn, March 96

Rating: 4 out of 5 as a novel, 4.5 out of 5 for Beach Boys fans.

Whale Music is a novel about a ficticious rock star called Desmond Howl. Desmond is/was the biggest rock star in the world, able to write hit singles the way some people write postcards. People around the world who cannot speak English can sing along with his songs. And yet as the hits get bigger and bigger, his world gets smaller, and smaller. Until one day it consists of little more than a bedroom and his basement recording studio and swimming pool. He doesn't answer the phone for fear that it one of th ose people who tries to control or manipulate him. All he does apart from consume food and drugs is work on his masterpiece to the world's largest mammals, Whale Music.

Desmond formed a group with his brother Danny and three others, including a balding blonde singer/guitarist called Monty Mann. Initially the group was managed by 'The Father', but he was usurped as his ideas conflicted with Desmond's, after a court case. Desmond had problems with his record company executives and his main competition was from the Beatles. His masterpiece album was called Grin, and then Danny died in a car accident shortly after marrying Monty's illegitamate daughter.

Sounds familiar eh? This novel gives a pretty good insight into the character of Brian Wilson, and a look at how it may have felt to be him in the 80s. There are many hilarious moments including a back stage fight with the Beatles.

Highly recommended to Beach Boy fans.

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