Despite this being a music-focused site, I figured a book review could sneak into the BTID pages, make it’s mark (if only as a debut for this type of thing), and probably hijack an eye or two. I base this solely on the fact that Mike Faloon is “one of us.” Us writer/music nerds have a code or something, I think. Faloon has the ‘zine world’s stamp of approval: As writer, editor, and publisher of the pop culture ‘zine Go Metric!, he’s been getting the dish from all your favorite bands, writing succinct and sly music reviews, and in general providing the most intriguing creative writing seen in indie mags over the past dozen years. Simultaneously ridiculous and clever, Go Metric! is the standard for short attention-spanned aficionados of travel, movies, music, comics, and pop theories.
So, a collection of short stories comes together in his first book, The Hanging Gardens of Split Rock, and they do not disappoint. The writing itself is more than competent and very welcoming to those interested in a “light” read. His attention to detail is very casual, and the occasional digression about a certain character or setting brings people and places to life without any pandering or pretension. Faloon sometimes even eschews the “show don’t tell” writing rule because hey, sometimes two brothers making a bank job getaway in a donut truck is just that, and you’ve gotta call ’em like you see ’em.
Which brings me to the single most enjoyable part about the book. The characters and their personalities, in situations exciting or mundane, are such a joy to read. The father/board of education candidate/little league coach who has his son bean an autistic teammate during batting practice so he won’t have to field him during the game, the man who dreams of releasing a country & western opera album (not a rock opera album, this is totally different!), the list goes on for most of the 15 pieces here. You love the lovable underdogs, and you love the despicable antagonists, mostly because they provoke equal parts sympathy and laughter.
And of course, for the music geeks there’s some nuggets to gobble up. An article that waxes philosophic on the merits of arena rock and prog rock, an adventure at the jam band festival Camp Bisco (yes, even the wasted Phish-heads are likable), and finally the high school kids who try to win the battle of the bands. There’s a bunch more tossed into many stories, all of which once again reminds us that the author is truly speaking our language.
Pick up the book for 6 bucks at Razorcake.
Go Metric in web form.