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Too Much, Too Late: A Novel [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Marc Spitz

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Eggfest '92 was going to be the best one yet. That's what they claimed, anyway, and that year we were all inclined to believe it. Eggfest was the same local bullshit every June around the first sign of summer. Fundamentally, the gathering was designed as a sort of thank-you to the state's 38 million laying hens, but we all knew it was nothing more than a means to get Dean into the travel guides. Ohio does indeed supply the nation with 9 percent of its eggs, but of the 7.9 billion eggs laid per year, only about 5,000 or so slide out in Dean. Apparently that was enough to rent a pony for kiddie rides, organize a bake sale, devil a few thousand of those suckers, and book some extremely capable and eager musical entertainment.
I'm being cynical now, but back then Eggfest '92 was our largest show yet, and we weren't taking it lightly. No longer would we crash the thing, screaming, "Eggs! Eggs!" in homage to Edie the Egg Lady from the old John Waters movie Pink Flamingos (which we loved), and spooking the pony. With the thirty to forty stragglers who'd wander up each year and justify the following year's Eggfest, we'd be performing for 500 people easy. I was nervous. I was already getting used to folks being nice to me because I played drums in a real band, and I was hungry for more. And for eggs.
The Jane Ashers had formed in my garage two years previously, in the summer of 1990. I was five years into my post-graduation from Benjamim Harrison High but I'd yet to send one college application out there for consideration. None of us had after-school jobs yet either. And I wasn't joining the army. I had the notion in my head that college was bullshit, and there was nobody around to challenge that. Not in my house anyway. My friends, they didn't have the grades or the money. And the notions in their heads were limited to "hungry," "girls," or "pot." I didn't know what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I decided to give myself a year to figure it out. By the time I turned twenty, I told myself, I'd know my future. And if not, I could always try college. In the meantime, I had plenty of hobbies. I was building my own computer from spare parts. Eating frozen pizzas and drinking my dead dad's Jim Beam bourbon out in the garage. I had my drums out there too. My Frankenstein's monster of a kit. A third-hand Ludwig bass. Dented Pearl tom and snare. Cracked Zildjian cymbals I stole from the band closet at school and dropped during my getaway. My drums were hand-painted a sort of orange, the shade of a burnt cake--I'd never seen another kit quite the same color. I remember taking pains to come up with something odd when I was mixing the pigments and getting high. I didn't care if it was ugly, and it was. I just wanted it to be one of a kind. My things were occasionally unreliable. But they were also unique. Like me. Who needed higher education? I wasn't bored yet. Life was good enough.
I lived alone with my mother, whom I adored, even though she was trouble. Ma had dropped off the grid just over a year after my father passed away in the fall of 1985. She made an attempt at proper widow behavior for a little while, probably for my sake. Minna was good-looking. I got her light hair and blue eyes. I guess everything else came from my dad: obstinacy, alcoholism, and this nose. Anyway, once it was proper, about two months after the funeral, the men came. Nobody local, out of respect for my father, who was well loved in Dean whether he worshiped the Son or not. I wondered where these men with their oily hair and powder blue two-piece suits were materializing from, because nobody in Dean would dare violate Artie's legacy in such a rude and horny fashion. Were they traveling salesmen passing through Dean on their way to Cincinnati or Toledo or Chicago even? More likely they were just blank, common men, half in the bag and vaguely wanting to nail my grieving mother after buying her a few rounds of inexpensive vodka at Tate's Grill out by the interstate turnoff. I even followed her in a friend's car and spied on her as it all went down. Minna drank gimlets and smoked unfiltered cigarettes like someone hastening her own demise. I remember her catching me with a stolen Pall Mall out in the garage and beating me with a Goody hairbrush until it snapped in two. And there she was, getting loose and lighting one cig with the end of the last, swaying and falling into the arms of these highway wolves with their Japanese cars full of regular gas out back. I didn't judge. She was bereft. Only 38, and left alone for all time.
"I don't even like them, Sandy. I don't like them touching me." I'd found her in the bathroom with a bottle of Smirnoff vodka, a notebook, a pencil, and an open bottle of sleeping pills. This after a particularly empty interlude. I screamed like a girl.
"What are you doing, Ma? You'd just leave me like that?"
"I'm having a drink."
She stared up at me. The corners of her lips twitched involuntarily. There was a sparkling ring of snot around her right nostril. She wiped it away.

People told my father that he looked a lot like Glenn Ford, the actor from The Blackboard Jungle. He was solidly built. Strong. Craggy. Maybe I'm thinking of William Holden. I don't know. My point here is that he was a bull. He fixed the car. We didn't pay a mechanic. He had a big gray toolbox. Now it's mine. Dad followed some girl named Jennifer Blake from his native Cleveland to Dean after college, then ditched her and married Ma, who was in high school at the time. All I know about Jennifer Blake is that she was very tall, with straw-colored, almost white hair . . . and after Dad had spent a few days in Dean, she was very gone. The way I heard it, although they didn't repeat it much, was that Artie spotted Minna at the counter in Bix's drugstore, walked to the pay phone by the gas station, put a coin in, and broke it off with Jennifer immediately. Then he went in, sat down, ordered a bottle of cola and introduced himself. He won over Minna's parents with his no-nonsense demeanor and some rudimentary Hebrew he remembered from school. At the time the Roth family were the only Jewish settlers in Dean, although they put up a tree every December and tried almost too hard to assimilate, changing the name on their mailbox to Ross. Unlike Winona, they were not in show business and they may have been slightly ashamed of their tribal roots. Who knows?
Minna's family had a business selling materials for countertops, and Artie went to work there. After starting in the yard, he moved into the office and ended up taking over the business inside of three years. He could sell scratchproof Formica made from the new miracle plastics developed for the last two war efforts like nobody else. By his late 30s, he'd built the company into a chain. I remember marveling at his ability to maneuver long sheets of material even in his silk suit and gold Baume et Mercier watch. He ate his meat rare. No dessert. Just coffee, black, and an unfiltered Pall Mall cigarette. Artie Klein was the toughest Jew who ever lived. Certainly not the kind of guy you'd expect to get killed by a bumblebee. He'd lived 49 years, 5 months, and 121Ú2 days without knowing that he was allergic to bee stings. How would you know if you've never actually been stung by a bee? It was just fate he hadn't, I guess. They thought it was a heart attack at first when he keeled over in the garden, his neck all swollen and red, eyes bulging, tongue purple and bitten nearly in two. When the doctor told us what really happened, that a little fuzzy bee took down my indestructible father, I vomited. Nothing made sense. I understood Minna's need to find something meaningful after having her marriage and basically her whole existence reduced to some kind of black irony. But she wasn't going to find it the way she was...

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 3.5 von 5 Sternen  6 Rezensionen
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A personal story of success and failure 28. März 2006
Von Bookreporter - Veröffentlicht auf
Author Marc Spitz, senior writer at Spin magazine, displays expertise of punk rock history in his second novel, TOO MUCH, TOO LATE, in which he tells the story of a '90s rock band through the voice of drummer Sandy Klein. In the year following their breakup, Sandy writes the story of the Jane Ashers --- in part to understand and in part to justify. It all begins in a small Ohio town called Dean in the summer of 1990.

Together with guitarist Rudy Tunick, the only other Jewish boy in Dean, and Harry Vance, a brilliant vocalist, Sandy jams in his garage at the end of his high school days. His sole ambition is to become a rock star. Keith Richards, Winona Ryder, David Bowie and Davy Jones are rockers whom Sandy and his friends idolize. Realizing they need a fourth participant, an ad is placed for a bass player. Archie Funk --- Ritalin addict at 24, bass musician and owner of a gray 1969 VW bus --- rounds out the group. The second order of business is to find a name, one that can elicit idolatry and gain them immediate attention. Following an exhausting list of choices comes the final selection, Jane Ashers. Jane Asher is the English actress who inspired Paul McCartney to write "Here, There and Everywhere" and, more importantly, dated him. Sandy's band is christened the Jane Ashers, and they get to work on becoming a success.

Harry is the song-writing genius who inspires them with new stuff to practice and perfect. But his human side goes sideways when he meets and dates his inspiration, Debbie Andrews. The love of his life, she both motivates and seduces him. He writes "Let's Go Steady, Debbie" out of this infatuation. The lovebirds become a couple and Debbie involves herself with publicity for the band. From their performance at a backyard gig comes the possibility of opening for an established star, Liz Phair, in Cleveland. This could be their big chance, and they are ready to take it. A pregnant Debbie becomes the gigantic boulder in their road to stardom.

Fast-forward about 15 years to the Jane Ashers now blown about in the wind to varied career paths. Harry is part-owner of a hardware store. Rudy and Sandy have had odd-jobs for years and Archie dies of an overdose. Providence comes to Sandy in the person of a 16-year old punk rock enthusiast named Natalie Levine, who calls herself Motorrrju. She's a blogger who's infatuated with the now-defunct Jane Ashers. A revival of "Debbie" restarts their popularity on a grandiose scale.

Sandy's memories of the Jane Ashers' rise to success, failure and then success again is written best by the rocker himself. Spitz uses the vehicle of his drummer to brilliant advantage in the telling. Laced with true stores of real stars, Spitz's words are truth of his experience in the world of rock writing. While not everyone's genre, TOO MUCH, TOO LATE is a personal story relevant to success and failure in any business venture. Less impressed with the "star" personas depicted than their deeply personal issues, I read the novel with thirst for the unfolding drama of the Jane Ashers' rocky road to fame.

--- Reviewed by Judy Gigstad
5.0 von 5 Sternen I Know It's Only Rock 'N Roll (But I Like It) 15. März 2006
Von Harry Brooks - Veröffentlicht auf
... In fact I love it. This is the best music fiction book that I have ever read. Too Much, Too Late has irresistible characters, an enchanting plotline, and wonderful dialogue. If you have any interest in rock 'n roll you will love the song references, not to mention the entire book. Anyone can relate to a member of The Jane Ashers. The overall experience of being in a band (sex, drugs, alcohol, and of course rock 'n roll) is captured beautifully in Marc Spitz's novel.
4.0 von 5 Sternen it's not as good as... 16. November 2007
Von Angela M - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Not as good as Spitz's novel "How Soon is Now?" but still very decent. If you liked his first book you will like this one, too...but it's probably best to read this FIRST and then you'll love "How Soon is Now?" all the more!! It sounds like Spitz has been in a band or very close to those in a band...he knows his stuff. Funny and at times tongue-in-cheek.
3.0 von 5 Sternen Too....something. 17. August 2011
Von H3@+h - Veröffentlicht auf
This isn't really a book you take anything away from. There's no deep or hidden message here. I won't be telling anybody it's a must-read. However I did like it. It was a light fun easy read. There's no doubt you'll enjoy this more if you're a music lover. Even more if you're anywhere near 40.

Every other page drops band names or references certain albums or singers. I bet 100 are named through the book. That's kinda cool, yet gets kinda old too. There's drugs and young girls. Basically it's a fictional autobiography of a band that gets popular 15 years after they should have. Though I'm sure that's happened to some in real life.

I did enjoy this enough that I will check out his prior book "How Soon Is Never". Who doesn't love The Smiths right.
1 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen His first novel was so great, but this is rife with stereotypes. 22. März 2008
Von Hedonist - Veröffentlicht auf
"How Soon Is Now", Marc Spitz's first novel, was impossible not to like. First of all, I grew up in a very similar nightmare town to the protagonist in Spitz's novel, and was similarly rescued from suburban misery by the beautiful, brilliant band The Smiths. Secondly, I had a similar drug foray to the protagonist (although enjoyed the drug much more, apparently). The depiction of post-post-college disillusionment, the realization that the music which once saved you can eventually break your heart, and the realization that the current zeitgeist is utter crap all combined to create a very relateable read, despite the fact that Spitz's protagonist is male and straight and I am a queer girl. That is the power of good fiction--to be relateable despite mundane differences that the larger world blows up disproportionately. Because of my love of his first novel, I was very excited to read this book. I was gravely disappointed. Aging male rock stars, sycophantic talentless females reduced to nothing more than wives, muses, and cataloguers of male greatness. Creative, tormented men with drug problems, one-dimensional blithe females. Either the author hasn't met any interesting three dimensional (or even two dimensional) females--particularly those who know how to play an instrument--or else he just couldn't care less if anyone other than solipsistic aged male hipsters lost in a fantasy of cookie-cutter twits reads his novel. Given that this seems to be the dominant personalities one runs across these days, I probably shouldn't blame the author too much. In addition, given the youth-obsessed lameness of popular culture these days, one also doubts if the plotline is even possible. In any event, I couldn't help wanting the narrator to fail, and every female in this book to be sucked back into some lame chick-lit title ("My Shoe Addiction", "Aching for Mister Right", "The Manolo Blahnik Club", "I'm A Stupid Twit"--OK, I made up the last title. No, wait, I made up all the titles!) where they belong. I would have expected better from a fan of Morrissey's gender-subversive lyrics.
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