Monday, January 27, 2020


Written in her wonderfully honest, edgy, passionate and often hilarious voice, Tiffanie DeBartolo tells the story of Eliza Caelum, a young music journalist, and Paul Hudson, a talented songwriter and lead singer of the band Bananafish. Eliza's reverence for rock is equaled only by Paul's, and the two fall wildly in love. 

When Bananafish is signed by a big corporate label, and Paul is on his way to becoming a major rock star, Eliza must make a heartbreaking decision that leads to Paul's sudden disappearance and a surprise knock-your-socks-off ending.

Paperback417 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Sourcebooks Landmark

OUR REVIEW: (ETA: this review has been sitting in our drafts folder for FIVE YEARS!!! Oops!)

I read this novel after God Shaped Hole and I'd highly recommend that you follow the same order. Why? It's a lighter read than God Shaped Hole, even with its angsty moments it's not quite as heavy as GSH--it's really quite different. In this novel rather than explore the relationship of two people working through issues of love and family and living in the world, we explore the unnecessarily complicated love affair of Eliza and Paul and their place in the world of music. 

Unnecessarily complicated? Yes, though if it hadn't been complicated I guess we wouldn't have had quite the story we did. Why do I think it was "unnecessarily complicated"? Because Eliza made decisions for people in this novel without fully thinking about what they would want or like or ...ugh. Do I think her heart was in the right place? Yes, but good lord...what a CF. What Eliza intended to do was selfless but controlling and the consequences were far and wide reaching. I know I'm making Eliza seem ...well, not great..but I did like her, even when I wanted to shake her, and I know that she was trying to do the right thing. Speaking of trying to do the right thing, Paul made decisions with that same desire to "do the right thing" in mind. He ignores his instincts and allows himself to be pressured into things he truly didn't want because he thought it would be right for his band and the impact of his decisions resulted in a craptastic results, ultimately. I know you're thinking..WHY WOULD I WANT TO READ THIS NOVEL, THEN?


Even though Eliza and Paul are a hot mess, I liked them. They're funny and observant and flawed. 

I also loved Tiffanie DeBartolo's fears and observations on the state of music/America/pop culture, as seen through her characters, and I found myself nodding my head a lot at what Paul said (especially the younger, more idealistic version of me) while appreciating the more mellow and accepting/resigned position of Loring. I can easily see these concerns about art and artistry existing as long as humans exist. It's that push/pull of wanting to express and evoke emotion and wanting to stay true to your art versus needing to afford to live versus commercialism versus fame versus industry machines controlling the manifest destiny of EVERYTHING. oh my gosh. Let me just stop now.


 If Tiffanie DeBartolo ever writes anything else, I wouldn't even have to think about it, I'd snatch it up immediately. I love her prose, the observations her characters make, and the obvious care she takes in crafting her works of fiction. 

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