Review: Wonderland Avenue – Danny Sugarman.

wonderlan*Backdated review*
While scrolling through Amazon with a gift voucher in tow, this was one of the books I found myself immediately drawn to upon reading its description. Tales of glamour and excess based in Hollywood – that tends to be the kind of thing I go for. I’ve always been relatively interested in the early LA music scene as I’ve always heard so many things about it and, in turn, have always been drawn to the era of true indulgence: the epitome of the cliché sex, drugs rock ‘n’ roll.

Books I enjoy enough to read even at the most inappropriate of times are few and far between. I recently found myself reading it in a lecture because I was bored of being showed clips. There was something about it that was undeniably addictive – ironic, right? For one, I always believe that those who grow up in the realm of rock ‘n’ roll and luxury are ‘lucky’ in terms of their location. Born in central Scotland, I was never likely to have a tale like this in my childhood. I don’t envy the scenario exactly, I just think that I’ve heard too many people say “I wish that happened to me when I was younger”. I hardly expect Glasgow’s scene to rival that of LA in the 60s and 70s.

Regardless, I felt myself drawn into the ride. I knew how it ended, sort of, and I found myself getting increasingly vexed with every internal promise he broke to himself. I disliked Clarence, felt somewhat sympathetic to his father and felt myself willing Danny’s mother to just leave the asshole husband all the way. I found the lack of sex for most of the book interesting, because it really played into the hands of the drug experiences. He described them so vividly and lovingly that, I expect should he have been fucking all the while they wouldn’t have seemed so grand.

I think because his first love in terms of sex vs. drugs was the latter, the former didn’t exactly get much attention in the book. It was just – here it comes again – interesting. I’m not a drugs person – never have been, never will be. I don’t care for that whole thing, but I’m strangely fascinated by it. I’m fascinated by the whole culture of sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll that defined the kind of music I listen to nowadays. Reading about Iggy Pop’s early days from someone so close to him kept reminding me of the moments I’ve seen him live and thought ‘Fuck, the drugs have wasted him away’.

There’s just something wonderful about this book. The father-son type relationship he held with Jim Morrison was really nice – albeit odd. The way Jim treated him – for the most part – and imparted life lessons on him kept forcing me to restrain myself from going straight online and quoting half of it. I think the next step I feel I have to do is read his biography of Jim just to get a fuller picture. I’ve known about Jim Morrison, heard the stories, but never something so personal and insightful into his personality and thought process. I’m sure a lot of the fonder memories were recounted through rose tinted spectacles, but that doesn’t change anything for me.

It was a simply fantastic read. I finished it last night and picked up the next book straight away but can barely concentrate. I want to read it again… and again… and again. Highly ironic that a book about the overuse of drugs can be so addictive, but it’s completely wonderful at the same time.

To anyone who has ever felt a connection to music – especially to rock ‘n’ roll – there’s something innocent and fascinating in there. And for once, it’s not from the point of view of a rockstar, but someone along for the ride.

I rarely discover a new favourite book, but I’ve developed a strange attachment to this.
(Edit: It’s still a favourite book, hence the blog title…)


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