Sunday, October 11, 2015

Belshangles - Susan Altstatt

Susan Altstatt
Fithian Press/Daniel & Daniel Publishers, Oct 12 2015, $15.95
ISBN: 9781564745781

In 1983, superstar Tommi Rhymer and his band the Belshangles complete a tour at Bill-Graham-Presents Oakland Day-on-the-Green concert.  After the show the twenty-nine years old rocker and his mates expect the usual sex with groupies and the affluent, and plenty of drugs at the hotel.  Fifteen year old Miranda Falconer loves the Belshangles and worships Tommi as she has since she was a tweener.  She and her BFF Skye Milligan attend the concert.

When the police raid the hotel, band member Harlan Parr pushes Tommi to get his underage friends out of there.  Tommi, Miranda and Skye leave the party before he passes out.  Miranda bullies a scared Skye to drive them to the former’s family’s cabin in the Sierras with an unconscious Tommi.  Frightened, Skye drops them off, but heads back to Stanford. 

His next waking moment finds a confused Tommi wondering where he is and how he got there.  As Miranda dreams of having her God to herself, Tommi begins to suffer cold turkey withdrawal and proves dangerous to his underage companion.

Capturing the essence of the pre-digital instant YouTube legend-making era, Belshangles is a fascinating drama that looks back to the near end of three decades in which sex, drugs and rock and roll converged.  Character-driven by the lead couple and a strong support cast, armchair rockers (figuratively though some of us geriatrics might be literally) will enjoy Susan Altstatt’s homage to a different musical period.

Harriet Klausner

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