The Age of Anxiety by Pete Townshend - SPOILERS!!

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by zeppo1, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. zeppo1

    zeppo1 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    South
    Starting a thread in the Music forums about Pete's new book.

    Rationale for starting a thread here rather than in General Discussions: The Age of Anxiety is apparently part of a larger project that will include possibly an art installation, musical and solo album from Pete. Hopefully, when (if?) that material is released the discussion can continue here, trying to figure out what Pete was on about.

    OK, so I just finished it and was interested to hear what others thought of it. While I'm trying to stick to more of Pete's intent in what he was saying, and not my own opinion of the book as a whole, I will say I was most interested in the characters of Ray and Walter and all that creative madness stuff. I thought this was going to be the main thrust of the book - the mystical creation of music, where it comes from, and the price one has to pay for it. I thought we were going explore the price of tapping into a great creative force in order to get great art and seeing if it was worth it.

    I think that is part of what he might have been going for? I really do no understand the kind of left turn it takes midway with it's concern for 'who's ****ing who.' It seemed to dissolve into some kind of English mannered soap opera.

    In the end what started for me as a great parable about creativity, ended with a kind of tacked on moral of "Forgive these beautiful crazy bitches. they may be nuts, but in the end what they do is for our own good and the good of all humanity" It left me with a weird aftertaste that Pete himself is trying to justify his partner's crazy behavior. I know he was trying to get at more --- the whole falling in love with the one you love's daughter (daughter by another man) bit with Maud and Floss and probably Walter and the roadie---but besides a kind of being in love more with a spirit than an individual person, I can't seem to figure this out. It seems like there are at least two separate stories that are tied together awkwardly.

    I will most likely read it again someday and am really interested to hear the music that comes from all this.

    Any one else read it?
     
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  2. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Location:
    Out of My Element
    I think the fact that you (I assume) refer to the Paul/Nik character as "Ray" speaks to the fact that Pete is staying pretty close to home in this novel. We have a rock star who becomes a recluse and goes a bit mad, and then tries to pass on his special insight to another generation. We have an unholy quartet (rather than trinity) of band members who don't always understand each other and/or get along. So yes, a lot of "Endless Wire", with a bit of a twist on the "Lifehouse"/"GridLife" audience-artist connection. I absolutely agree with you that the novel takes a disappointing turn, pretty much from the moment of Floss's arrival. The series of coincidences that solve the "mysteries" are telegraphed from a mile away, and the central thrust (the thin line between artistry and madness) mostly falls off to the side, replaced by soap opera that isn't all that compelling.

    Perhaps there should be a spoiler warning in the thread title for those who want to read the novel "cold"?
     
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  3. zeppo1

    zeppo1 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    South
    Yike. Just messaged a mod to ask to add "Spoiler" in the title. You wouldn't think this would be that kind of book, but I was pissed when I read
    about the rape
    before I read it in this article. Actually this article make me think I want Pete's work to be different than he wants it to be. He says here
    “This isn’t about celebrities or powerful men having sex with younger women,” he says. “It’s about rape, at least that’s one of the strands, and the insinuation of rape. It’s about the possibility of it when people are at a wedding, they take drugs, they get smashed and they have sex. Who is responsible if both people are smashed?”

    Ha! I did not even realize I referred to Paul/Nik as Ray. I was just watching Psychoderelict a few weeks back. I guess I do look at this as one big continuum. I thought we would finally get to the bottom of this Lifehouse"/"GridLife" one note stuff with Paul/Nik and Walter. More interesting by far than soap opera. I think I felt the same way when I read Pete's bio. Really interesting at the start --- hearing music and all the craziness he feels, the creative stuff--- then a bunch of anecdotes about how drunk/drugged he was from the middle to end.
    Indeed!

    sidenote: Just saw an interview where in talking about selling the film rights, Pete has Roger in mind to play Paul/Nik.
     
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  4. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Location:
    Out of My Element
    I hadn't read the Rolling Stone interview ... and I'm awfully glad I didn't before I read the book! Talk about a spoiler! That particular subplot did absolutely nothing for me - it was just a distraction from the more interesting plot line

    as was all the "who put who up for adoption" nonsense, which was all so obvious. I also felt like it was Pete's way of making certain that the audience wouldn't sympathize with the Louis character, who has some autobiographical elements.

    Like you, I wanted more about the creative process.

    Considering what we know of Pete's childhood abuse, it's interesting that his "powerful" female character kills her sexually abusive father.
     
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  5. gregorya

    gregorya Forum Resident

    Perhaps the working title for the complete project is "Wifehouse"... ;)
     
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  6. zeppo1

    zeppo1 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    South
  7. mrjinks

    mrjinks Optimistically Challenged

    Location:
    Boise, ID.

    Doesn’t sound like this is very good...

    I saw an offer for a signed book and was tempted, since I don’t think Pete will stop by to sign any LPs/CDs in my collection, but you guys have me second guessing.
     
  8. RayS

    RayS A Little Bit Older and a Little Bit Slower

    Location:
    Out of My Element
    I don’t know that someone who is not a fan of Townshend’s music would get a whole heck of a lot out of reading this book. As a big fan of Townshend’s lyrics and his concept pieces, I’m happy to have read the book as it provides a bit of further insight into the themes that have been running through his work for 50 years. For someone just wanting to read a well-crafted work of fiction, this isn’t it, IMO.
     
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  9. mrjinks

    mrjinks Optimistically Challenged

    Location:
    Boise, ID.
    Well, though I may not join together on Who/Townshend threads, I have 90+% of his work. I just don’t know if buying a potentially underwhelming signed book for $50 is worth it!

    Thanks for chiming in though, Max!
     
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  10. zeppo1

    zeppo1 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    South
    I agree with RayS, if you are into Townshend's work, you will get something out of it. The first half, mostly.

    It's frustrating how it veers off halfway through into a melodramatic soap opera. You get the impression that if he stuck with 'the madness of creativity' themes, it would have been fantastic. The ideas of just what constituents music and where it comes from are fascinating, and I thought that was to be the main thrust of it all.

    I think when Pete does fiction, he has trouble focusing and here has tacked on stuff to fit his idea of what makes a 'proper' novel. But I'm glad I read it, and got so much out of the first half I will most likely re-read in the future.
     
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  11. zeppo1

    zeppo1 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    South
    I wish he would have stayed away from the stuff he talks about here:

     
  12. Elliottmarx

    Elliottmarx Always in the mood for Burt Bacharach

    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Frankly, I found the book to be a little tedious; certainly joyless.
    Having access to spirituality is portrayed as a burden.
    Not having access to spirituality is also portrayed as burdensome.
    I did like that everyone's access to spirituality - whether through drugs, divinity, madness
    was treated equal.
    While I didn't feel that it worked as a novel, I am interested in seeing how it plays out in other narrative forms.
     
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  13. Jet Age Eric

    Jet Age Eric Forum Resident

    Location:
    SIlver Spring, MD
    Finished it last night. It is inconceivable to me that anyone edited it. I really liked Horse's Neck and Pete is my favorite artist, so I was predisposed to enjoy this but the book reads like a first draft. -E
     
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