Many songwriters have attempted to become novelists, with mixed results. Anyone who has struggled through some of the stories in John Lennon’s In His Own Write is likely to break into a cold sweat at the sight of another book written by a musician. But that hasn’t stopped a steady flow of budding novelists emerging from the music community, and Guardian writer Graeme Thomson has spoken to a number of them in this article.
Ryan Adams has his
set for publication by Akashic Books (which is run by Girls Against Boys bass player Johnny Temple) in the near future. Thomson describes it as a book of “free verse,” which sounds distinctly unpromising, although Adams touchingly pays tribute to his grandparents for getting him into reading great works of literature.
Nick Cave, whose And the Ass Saw the Angel was a surprisingly great Southern Gothic-style tome, also has a new book due, titled The Death of Bunny Munro . Cave says he wrote the novel "on the bus, late at night in hotel rooms, in bars, taxis. I saw it as 'work' in the same way as I see songwriting, essentially an experiment to see whether it was personally possible to create something amidst the chaos and exhaustion of a tour. I found, to my surprise, that I was swept away with the process."
Thomson also talks to Billy Bragg and Steve Earle about their struggles with writing, and offers a neat comparison between their approaches. Cave says he finds it easier than songwriting, while Earle appears to have been caught up in more than a few dark nights of the soul during the process. "There's very few things I've regretted more than deciding to write a full-length novel," he said. "It's so fucking hard." One author who did bridge the gap is John Darnielle, whose short novel based around Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality is an excellent entry in the 33 1/3 series.