August 11, 2013

Jutta Goetze: "Luna-C"

Title: Luna-C [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: None
Author: Jutta Goetze [Site | Goodreads]
Genres: Contemporary
Year: 2001
Age: 14+ 
Stars: 4.5/5 OK, I've been rereading this one a few times, and it gets to me every single one of them. I can't be nitpicky with a book like this. 5/5 (2016 update)
Pros: Peculiar writing. Honest storytelling. Different setting (Australia - both the country and the city).
Cons: Most characters are potentially clich├ęs, though Goetze manages to infuse them with life and make them genuine.
WARNING! Sex and drugs are present, though the first is written tastefully, without explicit details. Someone goes through an abortion. A character dies.
Will appeal to: Those who love music/tales about struggling to make it in the music business. Those who love coming-of-age stories. Those who love a different, often evocative prose.

Blurb: A behind-the-scenes look at what life in a 1980s band was like and how tension between members make it harder to succeed. Phoebe and Dale are country girls and best friends who both want to make it as singers and together join a big-city band. The two undergo a series of mixed emotions as they experience the thrill of performing, the love of music, the excitement of finding themselves, and the pursuit of dreams. (Amazon excerpt)

Review: This book marks my first encounter with an Aussie writer (...well, technically not, because Goetze was born in Africa - but since she was later raised in Australia, I suppose I can call her that). While I have some knowledge of New Zealand authors (I even did my thesis on Janet Frame), I didn't know what to expect from an Australian one. And well, it was a pleasant surprise. As with most NZ lit, the landscape is almost like an added character here. The writing is vibrant and evocative at the same time, never ornate but still poetic. There's a candour in this tale - in all the meanings of this term - that is matched by the characters' (even the most damaged ones) relationship with the outside world. Basically, it's the story of two country girls and friends (Phoebe, who wants to become someone; Dale, who can't help trying) trading their uneventful, frozen-in-place life for a spot in a band and a shot at fame. Which is probably the oldest tale in the civilized world, but Goetze does succeed in painting it new - and giving it the required 3D. 
As Goetze herself states, "Luna-C started life as a script for a mini-series", and it's inspired by her own on-the-road experiences with a real performing band. Stylistically, the novel alternates first-person, present-tense chapters (in which we follow Phoebe) with third-person, past-tense ones (where we see things from the perspective of Dale, Ric, Jayne, and on one occasion, Dan - though there are two main characters more, Buddy and Lou). Incidentally, every chapter is titled after a 60s', 70s' or 80s' song. With the exception of Dan, who's a manager of sorts for Luna-C, all the aforementioned characters are members of the band. One of my slight pet peeves against this book is how said characters are a bit "typical" - the troubled front man, the damaged, addicted singer, the manipulative would-be manager, the happy-go-luck bassist, the down-to-earth drummer. And of course, two girls who want to make it in the music industry...though I wouldn't really call those "typical", at least by nowadays standards, since they've got very little in common with current talent-show contestants. Both Phoebe and Dale - though very different individuals - share a genuine appreciation for music, regardless of it being mainstream, and are willing to pay the price it takes (i.e. "work hard") in order to get "up there". Needless to say, only one of them has got what it takes...so the other will recycle herself as a publicist, trying to generate hype about the band and to land them a recording deal - in order to cope with her own frustration and out of love for the music...and the man behind it. [...]

LC is both the choral story of a band's struggle to achieve recognition, and a series of individual portraits, full of dark corners...Also, it's the story of a friendship and a coming-of-age tale. And it has a happy ending - sort of. It is a little too polished and convenient for my tastes, but I can see the reason for it. Mind you - I can't stress it enough - this is not your average contemporary book about music and becoming a star, possibly overnight. There's a hunger for escaping one's dull, preordained life and leaving one's imprint on the world. And if this involves hard work and dedication, there's the willingness to pay the price. On the other hand - I will state it again - some of the things that happen along the way, both good and bad, seem a little too convenient. Just like the characters seem a bit too typical. It's an honest telling of life on the road though, of how some never make it, some do but lose a piece of their soul in the process, and some won't compromise in order to get there.
If you love the world of American Idol or X Factor or the likes, don't read this book. No, I take that back - do yourself a favour and read it already. It might open your eyes on what talent, honesty and passion for music really stand for. Then go back and watch one of those shows again. Maybe, just maybe, you will see them in a different light...

For quotes from this book click here.
For more Contemporary books click here.

11 comments:

  1. Great Blog idea. New GFC follower. Found your blog on Goodreads.

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  2. This cover had me thinking it was about aliens not an 80's band lol. Not sure if this is something I would be interested in, but I'm glad you liked it!

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    1. LOL it does look like that a little.

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  3. Wow, I really love the idea of this blog. I've been browsing through your titles, and I realized they really are books you don't see quite often. like how you diversify the books you include here. And this book sounds really interesting too.

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    1. Thank you! It means a lot to me when people validate my "mission" :).

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  4. Alternating POVs really bug me, so I'll probably skip this one.

    For Aussie authors, some of the big names are Melina Marchetta and Justine Larbalestier. And I love NZ author Margaret Mahy.

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    1. I only know Mahy and Marchetta by name...never heard of Larbalestier. Will look them up!

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  5. This blog is awesome :) It's good to see unknown books in the spotlights!

    Otherwise, I love your review :) Very lengthy and it digs deep into the book!

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    1. Ooh, thanks. *blushes deeply*
      As for lenghty...sometimes I think I should go for shorter posts...but I can't seem to restraint myself!

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  6. AUTHOR JUTTA GOETZE read my review and tried to comment on it, but for some reason the system didn't allow her. So she went and wrote me an email, that I'm copying and pasting here. Needless to say, I loved it - which is why I'm sharing its contents with you all!

    Have finally read your blog - you can see how little I access my own website. I think you were very generous and very honest and I appreciate that hugely. LUNA-C was my first full length novel and coming from a television background I struggled with structure; I think the first person / third person switching of narrative is a problem my editor tried to talk me out of but it was advice I did not follow. You learn by your mistakes. I value poetry in literature, in how words sound. I value Nature and how place, where we come from, has a huge effect on personality, and I see how destructive we are to each other as humans, and I try to reflect that in my writing. I hope your Blog is hugely successful, you are doing a wonderful service to writing and I thank you. Am still in a struggling phase but I hope that will eventually feed my creativity and my soul. Thank you Roberta. Jutta (author)

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