Too Weird For Ziggy

A while back, the Rock and Roll Report ran a fiction essay contest, which I happen to have won [probably by being the only entry, but a W is a W, though I am still waiting for my pat on the back from former Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres, by the way…], but I happened to be in the bookstore last week and I found a book that could have won easily with any of the short stories contained within: Sylvie Simmons’ Too Weird for Ziggy.

This collection of 18 stories, most running between 12-15 pages, though a couple go for 20, centers loosely on several recurring characters, mostly British rock stars, managers, hangers and journalists [including the author taking a first person perspective in a couple of the tales]. You’ll recognize the inspirations for the characters: Pussy, the sex kitten front woman who goes into seclusion when her songwriting guitarist/boyfriend dies in a car crash; Cal, the LA surfer boy who locks himself away from the industry for 10 years; Reeve, who channels the spirit of Jim Morrison for his ‘Tribute Band’ and winds up a German TV talk show host; Lee Ann StarMountain, the country singer with the fire and brimstone mama from Hell; Jeanie, the obsessed groupie who writes her letter of devotion on a roll of hotel TP to be delivered by the maid…

Some of the stories are downright WEIRD, like Allergic To Kansas, a tale in which the alpha male lead singer grows female type breasts in some sort of stress reaction and Too Weird For Ziggy in which a manager attempts to revive/reanimate his ‘dead [thought it never says physically or just dead career wise] Bowie-type star.

But there’s also the wickedly funny Spitting Image, in which a spoiled pretty boy star buys his robot/puppet likeness from an exhibition and throws it a reception only to receive an ear and a Polaroid from somewhere, but not a ransom note… and continues receiving them until one day in Hollywood… Close To You about a series of apparitions of the true holy mother Karen Carpenter and the Karen Clubs that spring up in their wake [blasphemous to be sure, but with a wink and a grin]…

This book just reads like a series of vignettes for a straight to DVD Rock and Roll Twilight Zone movie. Picture three people, a writer, manager and roadie all sitting in a bar swapping war stories and gossip… My speculation is that this is the stuff real rock and roll writers do while waiting in bars, airports and hotel rooms. According to her credentials, Simmons has done her share of waiting, writing for Mojo, Rolling Stone, Kerrang, Q, Sounds and Creem [BOY HOWDY!].

There’s nothing earth shattering here; it’s not Dante’s Inferno or even Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung. But it’s a quick and fun read, easily devoured during a week of lunch breaks or wherever you do your reading.

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