D.J. Taylor - 'Rock and Roll is Life' - Little, Brown Book Group

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    • ISBN:9781472128836
    • Publication date:31 May 2018
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    • ISBN:9781472128812
    • Publication date:31 May 2018

'Rock and Roll is Life'

The True Story of the Helium Kids by One Who Was There: A Novel

By D.J. Taylor

  • Hardback
  • £18.99

'Rock and Roll is Life' is the new novel from the country's leading man of letters, D. J. Taylor.

'Taylor's magnificent new novel is Spinal Tap for literary types . . . thoroughly entertaining, knowledgeable romp through the fear and loathing of rock's golden age. Beautifully written and consistently funny, it is also a poignant account of one man's search for his own identity' Mail on Sunday

'A dazzling rollercoaster homage to an era both bacchanalian and oddly innocent' Guardian

You may remember the Helium Kids. Back in their late '60s and early '70s heyday they appeared on Top of the Tops on 27 separate occasions, released five Billboard-certified platinum albums, played sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden and were nearly, but not quite, as big as the Beatles and the Stones.

Three decades later, in the big house on the outskirts of Norwich, Nick Du Pont is looking back on the rollercoaster years he spent as their publicist in a world of licensed excess and lurking tragedy.

What follows is not only the story of a rock band at a formative time in musical history, when America was opening up to English music and huge amounts of money and self-gratification were there for the taking. For the tale is also Nick's - the life and times of a war-baby born in a Norwich council house, the son of an absconding GI, whose career is a search for some of the advantages that his birth denied him. It is at once a worm's eye of British pop music's golden age and a bittersweet personal journey, with cameo appearances from everyone from Elvis and Her Majesty the Queen Mother to Andy Warhol.

'Rock and Roll is Life' is a vastly entertaining, picaresque and touching novel inspired by the excess and trajectories of the great '60s and '70s supergroups, and of the tales brought back from the front line by a very special breed of Englishmen who made it big in the States as the alchemists and enablers, as well as the old making way for the new in the era of the baby boomers. At its heart is one man's adventure, and the poignancy of the special relationships that dominate his life.

Biographical Notes

D.J. Taylor's novels include English Settlement (1996), which won a Grinzane Cavour Prize, Trespass (1998) and Derby Day (2011), both long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, Kept: A Victorian Mystery (2006), a Publishers Weekly book of the year, and The Windsor Faction (2013), joint winner of the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He has also written several works of non-fiction, including Orwell: The Life, winner of the 2003 Whitbread Prize for Biography and, most recently, The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England Since 1918 (2016). He lives in Norwich with his wife, the novelist Rachel Hore, and their three sons.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9781472128843
  • Publication date: 31 May 2018
  • Page count: 480
  • Imprint: Constable
Taylor's magnificent new novel is Spinal Tap for literary types . . . thoroughly entertaining, knowledgeable romp through the fear and loathing of rock's golden age. Beautifully written and consistently funny, it is also a poignant account of one man's search for his own identity — Simon Humphreys, Mail on Sunday
Hugely entertaining . . . perceptive and sardonic . . . a dazzling rollercoaster homage to an era both bacchanalian and oddly innocent — Dermot Bolger, Guardian
A highly entertaining riff on the music business in the 1960s and 1970s . . . an immensely satisfying portrait of a creative and occasionally monstrous industry — Ian Critchley, Literary Review
An affectionate homage to a sub-genre of music journalism that has lost much of its cultural cachet in the internet age. Taylor skilfully combines nostalgic reverence and ironic distance in this genial romp, puncturing the mythology of the era while never quite repudiating its charms — Houman Barekat, Spectator
This tale of pop group excess cleverly slips fact into fiction . . . Taylor's wry, detached style and eye for detail is a pleasure to read — Will Hodgkinson, The Times
D. J. Taylor has a gift for rendering the defining details of a world . . . It might be said that the book depicts a world that comes with the satire built in, but for good or ill rock music and its successors have taken on a cultural and economic importance that no one could have predicted. The subject requires a powerful imaginative chronicler. In D. J. Taylor it finds a writer closer to Balzac than it may even deserve — Sean O'Brien, TLS
A literary version of Rob Reiner's hilarious mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, tragically narrated by a provincial depressive — Lewis Jones, Daily Telegraph
Entertaining . . . By the end, you'll almost be humming the music — Suzi Feay, The Tablet
Constable

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Corsair

Secondhand Daylight

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Autumn 1933, and for once struggling writer James Ross seems to have fallen on his feet. Not only has the Labour Exchange fixed him up with a day-job collecting rents in Soho, but friendly Mr Samuelson is employing him front-of-house in the Toreador night-club. Even his melancholy love-life is looking up, thanks to a chance encounter with the alluring Gladys, enigmatic inhabitant of the Meard Street second-floor back.On the other hand, Soho looks an increasingly dangerous place in which to be at large. Not only are Mosley's Blackshirts on the prowl, but somebody is raiding the dirty bookshops and smashing night-club windows in a quest for moral decency. Fetched up in a police-cell in West End Central after an unfortunate incident outside the Toreador, and coerced into undercover work by the mysterious Inspector Haversham, James finds himself infiltrating the Blackshirts' Chelsea HQ , leafleting passers-by in the King's Road and spying on a top-secret dinner party attended by a highly important Royal guest. Meanwhile, the emotional consequences of this deception are set to come as a nasty shock.Praise for At the Chime of a City Clock:'Steeped in historical detail, the novel evokes the sleazy side of the Thirties so vividly that you can almost feel the grease and grime on your fingers.' Anthony Gardner, Mail on Sunday'Engaging, cheerful, opportunist James Ross. You won't forget him or the London he frequents for a long time after closing the book.' Susan Hill, Literary Review'A watchable, atmospheric black-and-white film in novel form' Sunday Express'Written with a splendid and captivating assurance' The Scotsman'Finely drawn ... Artful ... Masterly.' John Sutherland

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At the Chime of a City Clock

D.J. Taylor
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Summer 1931 in seedy Bayswater and James Ross is on his uppers. An aspiring writer whose stories nobody will buy ('It's the slump'), with a landlady harassing him for unpaid rent and occasional sleepless nights spent in the waiting room at King's Cross Station, he is reduced to selling carpet-cleaning lotion door-to-door. His prospects brighten when he meets the glamorous Suzi ('the red hair and the tight jumper weren't a false card: she really was a looker and no mistake'), but their relationship turns out to be a source of increasing bafflement. Who is her boss, the mysterious Mr Rasmussen - whose face bears a startling resemblance to one of the portraits in Police News - and why he so interested in the abandoned premises above the Cornhill jeweller's shop?Worse, mysterious Mr Haversham from West End Central is starting to take an interest in his affairs. With a brief to keep an eye on Schmiegelow, James finds himself staying incognito at a grand Society weekend at a country house in Sussex, where the truth - about Suzi and her devious employer - comes as an unexpected shock. Set against a backdrop of the 1931 financial crisis and the abandonment of the Gold Standard, acted out in shabby bed-sitters and Lyons tea-shops, At the Chime of a City Clock is an authentic slice of Thirties comedy-noir.Praise for Kept: A Victorian Mystery:'Very entertaining and well done, with a sharp appreciation for the details' The Times'An ingenious tale of madness, murder and deception.' The Guardian'A stylish page-turner ... all done with humour and cunning.' Sunday Telegraph

Ace Atkins

Ace Atkins is a former Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist who cut his teeth as a crime reporter in the newsroom of the Tampa Tribune. He published his first novel at the age of 27 and became a full-time novelist at 30. Ace lives on a historic farm outside Oxford, Mississippi with his family.

Ali McNamara

Ali McNamara attributes her over-active and very vivid imagination to one thing - being an only child. Time spent dreaming up adventures when she was young has left her with a head bursting with stories waiting to be told.When stories she wrote for fun on Ronan Keating's website became so popular they were sold as a fundraising project for his cancer awareness charity, Ali realised that not only was writing something she enjoyed doing, but something others enjoyed reading too. Ali lives in Cambridgeshire with her family and two Labradors. When she isn't writing, she likes to travel, read, and people-watch, more often than not accompanied by a good cup of coffee. Her dogs and a love of exercise keep her sane!To find out more about Ali visit her website: www.alimcnamara.co.uk or follow her on Twitter: @AliMcNamara

Barbara Cardy

BARBARA CARDY originally trained in art, design and construction, before moving through a variety of careers. To date, she has edited twenty-seven anthologies of various kinds. She lives in Kent with her two boys.

Cath Staincliffe

Cath Staincliffe is an award winning novelist, radio playwright and creator of ITV's hit series Blue Murder. Cath's books have been shortlisted for the CWA Best First Novel award. She was joint winner of the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2012. Letters To My Daughter's Killer was selected for the Specsavers Crime Thriller Book Club on ITV3 in 2014. Cath also writes the Scott & Bailey books based on the popular ITV series. She lives with her family in Manchester.

Catherynne M. Valente

Catherynne M. Valente is the New York Times bestselling author of over two dozen works of fiction and poetry, including Palimpsest, the Orphan's Tales series, Deathless and the crowdfunded phenomenon The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. She is the winner of the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus and Hugo awards. She has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards. She lives on an island off the coast of Maine with a small but growing menagerie of beasts, some of which are human.

Charlotte Rogan

Charlotte Rogan studied architecture at Princeton University and worked for a large construction firm before turning to fiction. She is the author of The Lifeboat, which was nominated for the Guardian first book award and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and which has been translated into twenty-six languages. After many years in Dallas and a year in Johannesburg, she now lives in Westport, Connecticut.

Chevy Stevens

Chevy Stevens grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still lives on the island with her husband and daughter. When she's not working on her next book, she's camping and canoeing with her family in the local mountains. Her debut novel, Still Missing, won the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel.

Christobel Kent

Christobel Kent was born in London and educated at Cambridge. She has lived variously in Essex, London and Italy. Her childhood included several years spent on a Thames sailing barge in Maldon, Essex with her father, stepmother, three siblings and four step-siblings. She now lives in both Cambridge and Florence with her husband and five children.

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles is the author of the hugely popular Morland Dynasty novels, which have captivated and enthralled readers for decades. She is also the author of the contemporary Bill Slider Mystery series, as well as her new series, War at Home, which is an epic family drama set against the backdrop of World War I. Cynthia's passions are music, wine, horses, architecture and the English countryside.

Dan Simmons

Dan Simmons was born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1948, and grew up in various cities and small towns in the Midwest. He received his Masters in Education from Washington University in St. Louis in 1971. He worked in elementary education for eighteen years, winning awards for his innovative teaching, and became a full-time writer in 1987. Dan lives in Colorado with his wife, Karen, and has a daughter in her twenties. His books are published in twenty-nine counties and many of them have been optioned for film.

Daphne Du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier (1907-89) was born in London, the daughter of the famous actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier and granddaughter of George du Maurier, the author and artist. In 1931 her first novel, The Loving Spirit, was published. A biography of her father and three other novels followed, but it was the novel Rebecca that launched her into the literary stratosphere and made her one of the most popular authors of her day. In 1932, du Maurier married Major Frederick Browning, with whom she had three children.Many of du Maurier's bestselling novels and short stories were adapted into award-winning films, including Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds and Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now. In 1969 du Maurier was awarded a DBE. She lived most of her life in Cornwall, the setting for many of her books.

E. L. Doctorow

E. L. Doctorow's novels include Andrew's Brain, Homer and Langley, The March, City of God, Welcome to Hard Times, The Book of Daniel, Ragtime, Loon Lake, Lives of the Poets, World's Fair, Billy Bathgate and The Waterworks. Among his honours are the National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle awards, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, the William Dean Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the presidentially conferred National Humanities Medal. He died in July 2015.

Elizabeth Moon

Elizabeth Moon served in the US Marine Corps, reaching the rank of 1st Lieutenant during active duty. She has also earned degrees in history and biology, run for public office and been a columnist on her local newspaper. She lives near Austin, Texas, with her husband and their son. Twenty-six of her books are in print, and she won the Nebula Award with her science fiction novel Speed of Dark (also shortlisted for the Clarke Award), and was a finalist for the Hugo in 1997.

Emma Blair

Emma Blair was a pen name for Scottish actor and author Iain Blair, who began writing in his spare time and whose first novel, Where No Man Cries, was published in 1982. During a writing career spanning three decades he produced some thirty novels, but his true identity remained a secret until 1998 when his novel Flower of Scotland was nominated for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year award. He was one of Britain's most popular authors and his books among the most borrowed from libraries. Iain Blair died in July 2011.

Francesca Hornak

Francesca Hornak is a journalist and writer, whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Marie Claire, Red, Grazia and Stylist. Her column History Of The World In 100 Modern Objects first appeared in The Sunday Times Style Magazine in 2013 and ran for two years, later becoming a title with Portico. Francesca is also the author of a second non-fiction book, Worry with Mother (Portico).

Iain Banks

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, THE WASP FACTORY, in 1984. He gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels. Iain Banks died in June 2013.