Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Fiction Inspired by The Smiths

Read 2/10/10 - 2/16/10
4 Stars - Strongly recommended
Short Story Collection

Thank you to Harper Perennial for sending me this ARC copy.

Peter Wild, an editor and journalist, worked with multiple authors to create Please - a collection of short stories that were inspired by the songs of The Smiths, which releases in March.

Being too young to appreciate The Smiths when they broke into the music scene in the early 80's, and subsequently disbanded in the late 80's, I was a late Morrissey bloomer. I clearly remember walking into our local Gallery of Sound music store, and browsing the racks of cassettes (yes, I said cassettes) to find Your Arsenal in the new release section. At that point I hadn't heard of Morrissey, and was really just starting to get into the darker side of alternative music (The Cure, Depeche Mode, Catherine Wheel, Afghan Whigs). So I grabbed it, hoping that my money was not being wasted in vane.

On my long walk home from the shop, I popped the cassette into my walkman (oh man, am I dating myself!) and within the first 15 seconds of the first track, I was in love. I played Your Arsenal non stop for the next week, and wore the cassette tape out in a matter of months. Of course, during those next few months, I saved what little money I could get and began purchasing every piece of music Morrissey had released - which quickly lead me to The Smiths.

One of the most influential alternative bands of all time, they experienced a fierce following, making a mark within the entertainment industry that is still visible today. Moody, painful, lonely, angry, heartbroken, suicidal - songs and lyrics that are still so relevant to many of us. Combining amazing lyrics with soul stirring musical arrangements, The Smiths found the world's soft spot.

How many of us, as we listened to Morrissey sing his heartwrenching and angst filled songs, felt that he was speaking directly to us? How many times have we thought "oh my god, he is singing about me, he knows how it feels"?

Did you know that Morrissey is a big reader? A man who can not only express his deepest darkest feelings in a sexy lispy voice, but who is also not afraid to admit he loves a good book??? **swoons**

Peter Wild and Harper Perennial have teamed up to take the essence of The Smiths, and incorporate it into stories that call to your heart, and your head. Stories that range from sadly hopeful (Cemetery Gates - two people who fall in love on their deathbeads) to strange and creepy (I Won't Share You - in which a man's arm begins to separate itself from his body), silly and indulgent (Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now - where a man sends his co-worker a video of himself lip synching to this song naked) to disfunctional love (Jeane - a man who can't seem to let go of an abusive situation).

I tend to steer clear of short story collections that feature multiple authors, as the stories and writing styles always tend to clash with one another, and leave me with a fractured feeling. Not so in the case of Please. Perhaps it is the genius of Peter Wild, chosing the right stories. Perhaps it is the perfect match between author and influence. Perhaps, it is simply the fact that The Smiths brings out the best in everyone.

Whatever it is, it is magical.

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