Today it’s my turn on the BlogTour The Story of John Nightly by Tot Taylor.
Tot Taylor is a writer, composer, art curator and music producer. He has worked in music, film, theatre and the visual arts since being signed by Island Records while still at school. For the past thirteen years, he has been co-curator of the Riflemaker gallery in Beak Street, Soho, which he co-founded with Virginia Damtsa. Their artists have been featured at Tate Modern, MoMA, the Pompidou Center and Frieze Masters, among others. The Story of John Nightly is his first novel.
About the book
The Story of John Nightly is a novel about the nature of creativity – at the level of genius. It mixes real and imagined lives in the tale of a young singer-songwriter.
John Nightly (b. 1948) finds his dimension in pop music, the art form of his time. His solo album becomes the third best-selling record of 1970. But success turns out to have side effects.
After a dazzling career, John renounces his gift, denying music and his very being, until he is rediscovered thirty years later by a teenage saviour dude who persuades him to restore his quasi-proto-multi-media eco-mass, the Mink Bungalow Requiem.
Can John Nightly be brought back to life again?
This magnum opus disappoints most certainly in one aspect, and that is the fictional nature of the main character. It would be the cherry on top of the sundae if Nightly had a factual source – a real person behind the pseudonym of John Nightly. Wonders whether Taylor had a specific person or persons in mind whilst writing this book?
At nearly 900 pages this is one heck of a read. There is no real direction or plot per se. Much like life it’s kind of a let’s deal with each day and situation as it arises. Set in an era and to the backdrop that cemented certain music genres in our minds and in history. The attention to detail and the accurate portrayal of pop-culture is what makes the story flow and it draws the reader in.
My musical upbringing was very much defined by my parents music, who both had very different tastes, although they did agree on the 60s and the Beatles. Long car journeys were enriched by a limited number of eight track cassettes before the more commonly known cassette tape made its appearance. The way the music winds in, out and around the story reminded me of how my own life was set to a background of tunes and lyrics.
In essence it’s about the eccentricity of genius and the way the flame of creativity can burn and engulf someone completely then just fizzle out. What happens when life has only just begun and you can no longer reignite the flame of inspiration?
This is speculative fiction, experimental even in a sense that Taylor bends and snaps the boundaries and known norms of the contemporary read.