Thunder's Mouth Press (2003), $26.50
Idiot shivers: a brief epileptic episode coupled with an acute chill; induced by witnessing feats of incomparable idiocy. See Joan Jett's short story "Bad Reputation."
Sure, it sounded like a good idea -- short stories penned by rock stars. Then again, would you expect Stephen King to be a good musician? Or, to choose a better example, have you listened to the bands fronted by actors like Keanu Reeves (Dogstar) and Russell Crowe (30 Odd Foot of Grunts)? Yeah, don't. The days of the Renaissance man are behind us, and the selections in Carved in Rock prove it. While many offer quaint narratives (Pete Townshend's detective tale "The Plate," for example), several read like the work of high school students. At best they're novel diversions, fun to read because of who wrote them. At worst, they induce the idiot shivers.
There are admittedly some literary highlights. Jim Carroll -- who's really more of a writer than a musician anyway -- submits a brisk, visceral tale about voodoo, hot New York days, and superstition in "Curtis's Charm." And Richard Hell's "From a Novel in Progress," a selection about NYC poets young and old, inspired and expired, is itself quite poetic when cast in Hell's rich, sardonic voice. But it's stories like Jett's (co-written with the book's editor, Greg Kihn) that make you want to smash this book like a '62 Stratocaster. Told in first person, "Bad Reputation" is Jett's account of a standoff with vampires -- yes, vampires -- after one of her gigs, and it includes such lines as, "Our wills locked in psychic combat, we raged at each other silently. I would not back down. I beamed my rebel soul like a laser." Rock 'n' roll may make you famous, sexy, cool, and, according to Jett, impervious to "soulless blood junkies." It does not, however, make you a good writer.