>> Tuesday, August 05, 2014 – '80s music, JAMC, Jesus and Mary Chain, novel, psychocandy, wivenhoe park
My novel Wivenhoe Park has been out for about eight months now. Here's a selection of press clips thus far. Articles first, followed by reviews:
Big Takeover Magazine feature
QRD magazine interview
Beguiling Hollywood feature
Pop Culture Redefined video
Cool Cleveland spotlight
The real protagonist of Wivenhoe Park, in fact, is the music, and the book celebrates the scene from the chapter headings right down to its soul. It’s an addictive read, an affirmative and faithful story of sex, drugs and rock & roll. Where an equivalent novel such as Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity becomes evermore unrealistic to get to its happy ending,Wivenhoe Park retains a believable optimism through sheer faith in rock & roll.
– Paul Rayson, Muso’s Guide
“I enjoyed Wivenhoe Park thoroughly. Ben Vendetta captures the youth feel and mood of those times quite vividly. His description of an embryonic Primal Scream gig is bang on; people always skip over that period of the band when they were most interesting and unpredictable. Cool that Meat Whiplash get a mention also, a defining Creation moment for sure.”
– Sam Knee, author of A Scene In Between
“This is classic coming of age stuff. Drew makes friends, hangs out with bands, dates inappropriate girls, takes drugs and whole lot more. But what makes Wivenhoe Park such a joy is that Ben writes in a very engaging way … If you ever enjoyed High Fidelity, went to a British University in the mid 80s or are counting the days until Cherry Red reissues the legendary C86 compilation (as a two disc set!) you’ll love this.”
What a fun novel with sneaky depth. BT’s own Vendetta brings back an ’80s era when a stunning, now-legendary post-punk/indie rock scene was blazing in Britain, yet this time, unlike with punk rock, a smaller slice of Americans followed its brilliance. He slyly evokes this in a coming-of-college-age story of throwing off the influence (and snares) of normal Middle American life by instead immersing himself into the thick of the NME/Melody Maker/Sounds-fed maelstrom in England itself (while seeing a bit of the continent). The scenes of hot concerts, encountering the new albums, and meeting key players such as Creation Records impresario Alan McGee are as vivid as the romantic angst of an early 20-something negotiating the love/sex conundrum and the constant worrying about identity and career—it’s all as funny as thoughtful. And I didn’t see the ending coming, either.
–Jack Rabid, The Big Takeover
If you were a post-punk kid growing up in the suburban Midwest in the ‘80s, London was your Mecca. Not all of us made the trip that decade, but now we can, thanks to Vendetta’s vivid portrayal of a young Anglophile abroad, drowning out the ache of first heartbreak in a mad dash through the British music scene. If John Hughes were still alive… well… he’d never touch this story. It’s too full of the sort of gritty realism that never made it into his well-scrubbed coming-of-age stories.
– Robert Cherry (former Editor-in-Chief, Alternative Press)
I was jazzed when I heard music writer Ben Vendetta was writing a book. I always enjoyed reading his zine, VENDETTA and his contributions to Jack Rabid’s BIG TAKEOVER zine and our music tastes are pretty similar. Regarding his book…is it autobiographical? Well, not really (hmm…) but it follows the life of Drew, a Michigan university student who decides to travel abroad and study in a small British town (near London). Along the way he lives, he loves (love stinks), learns and, oh yeah, he sees lots and lots of bands, listens to a ton of records and generally talks about bands like Primal Scream , The Smiths and Echo & the Bunnymen to anyone who’ll listen (and he has the t-shirts to prove it) . He nearly reaches his goal of becoming a famous music writer for one of the British weeklies but finds out back stabbers aren’t only in America, but who cares, he got to meet Bobby Gillespie!. For those of us who came of age in the 80’s and didn’t give a hoot about bands like Foreigner or Poison but instead wanted REAL music then WIVENHOE PARK will be a real page turner that’s hard to put down. It certainly was for me.
– Tim Hinely, Dagger
Wivenhoe Park wrenched me back to a mid-80s Britain where punk was dead and alternative/goth ruled. If birds, booze and Bunnymen are your thing, as they are mine, then dust off your Sisters of Mercy LPs, squeeze into your Meat Is Murder t-shirt and enjoy the ride.
– Dave Hawes (Catherine Wheel)
With Wivenhoe Park, writer Ben Vendetta takes you back to a simpler time when culture and relationships were complicated but fun, and when music really mattered to your life. This dive into historical fiction is like a post-punk version of High Fidelity, with a bit more grit, sass, and reality. It’s a great read.
– Tony Schinella (Award-winning journalist, broadcaster; musician)
Wivenhoe Park blew me away. The writing is so good and so descriptive that I really felt like I was reliving my 20s when I read it. It’s very evocative. Wivenhoe Park brings you back to that rollercoaster ride of your early 20s. Every great new discovery — music, friends, food, drinking, the opposite sex — is like a match to dynamite. Every disappointment is the end of the world. With each experience, Drew grows just a little bit. In the end, he’s figured out who he is, what he can give to the world, and what it takes to be a great partner and friend.
– Michelle Briand, WXRV (The River)
Ben Vendetta is the author of the music-centric novels Wivenhoe Park (2013) and Heartworm (forthcoming Spring 2015). Wivenhoe Park is available on Kindle and paperback via Amazon. Signed paperbacks can be purchased from Elephant Stone Records.