Punk rocker fights ardently for himself
(and then disappears right as his band gets popular). I handed this book to a student I’d known for about an hour (she was testing in my classroom) and she loved it. Said it spoke to her guitar-playing heart. And I thought that was awesome. I also think Wise Young Fool might be one of Beaudoin’s more accessible books — there aren’t so many allusions to pop culture or a specific knowledge base (I loved Wesley Payne, by the way) that readers are buried by them.
I loved the parallel structure, and how the two stories met at the end in a (I thought) satisfying resolution. I spent most of the novel asking questions about Sudden’s sister Beth and what she had to do with his incarceration and about Sudden’s relationship with B’Los — friends but not friends — as close to a friend as one can get in jail?
I was not, however, a fan of Fred. I couldn’t understand why some bands/songs got the Fred treatment and others didn’t. I mean REO Fredwagon was funny, but don’t mess with Thelonius Monk? (I mean, one shouldn’t mess with Thelonius Monk. Jazz is sacred, but still.) And the girls were just kind of there as plot points. I didn’t feel anything for them, they weren’t dynamic really, and I don’t feel like they contributed to Sudden’s epiphany. But maybe that’s life. There are some people who are just there on the periphery.
Needless to say, I’ve enjoyed Beaudoin’s novels thus far, and I’ll add this one to the stack of entertaining and darkly amusing books on my shelf.