Thursday, 2 January 2020

BENTLEY RUMBLE Recognition: A Novel (2009)

10th Anniversary Annotated Edition (2019)

'How long is long enough?'

This is the question facing 31 year old singer/songwriter Jason Leishman as he struggles to overcome the obstacles –– apathetic record companies, bandmates who can't play, plus a chronic case of mixed emotions about his new girlfriend Emma –– which seem to stand between him and his lifelong dream of making it in the music industry.

Should he stay with Emma, who loves him enough to support him while he tries to reinvent himself as a solo act? Or should he dump her for Candy, the sexually-adventurous barmaid he's so bad at saying 'No' to?  And then there's Zoe, the troubled young party babe whose early morning ramblings through the quiet streets of inner-city Sydney threaten to teach him a lot more about himself than he bargained for.  What, if anything, should he do about her?

With Garry McIlwaine, slick-talking owner of Awesome Records, starting to say all the right things about his music, it could now be make-or-break time for him.  Will he be able to conquer his frustrations and sign the record deal that threatens to make him a star?  Will he realize what a treasure he's found in Emma and start putting her needs first for a change?  Or will he blow it, like he has so many times in the past, by letting his ego call the shots again?

RECOGNITION is the story of a talented guy who, like a lot of talented people, can't seem to stop being his own worst enemy.

This new, fully revised 10th Anniversary edition of RECOGNITION contains a short foreword by the author plus 24 pages of newly written explanatory notes.


v3.0 / 395 pages / 150,308 words / 2.14 MB
Last updated: January 2020

Recognition: A Novel (2009) [v3.0] – Bentley Rumble

Contains frequent coarse language, drug use and explicit sexual references.

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BENTLEY RUMBLE The Rush and Other Stories (2019) [v1.1]
BENTLEY RUMBLE Blues for Eddie Clay (2014) [v2.0]
BENTLEY RUMBLE Early Writing (2014) [v2.0]

Thursday, 26 December 2019

WORDS FOR THE MUSIC #15: Neil Diamond

c 1968

from the 1968 MCA/Uni LP Velvet Gloves and Spit
[reissued in Australia in 1973 under the title Brooklyn Roads]


If I close my eyes
I can almost hear my mother
Calling 'Neil, go find your brother,
Daddy's home and it's time for supper
Hurry on'

And I see two boys
Racing up two flights of staircase
Squirming into papa's embrace
And his whiskers warm on their face
Where's it gone
Oh where's it gone

Two floors above the butcher
First door on the right
And life filled to the brim
As I stood by my window 
And looked out on those
Brooklyn Roads

I can still recall
Smells of cooking in the hallways
Rubbers drying in the doorways
And report cards I was always
Afraid to show

Mom would come to school
And as I'd sit there softly crying
Teacher'd say 'He's just not trying,
Got a good head if he'd apply it
But you know yourself
It's always somewhere else'

I'd build me a castle
With dragons and kings
And I'd ride off with them
As I stood by my window 
And looked out on those
Brooklyn Roads

Thought of going back
But all I'd see are strangers' faces
And all the scars that love erases
But as my mind walks through those places
I'm wondering
What's come of them

The son of a young boy
Come home to my room
Does he dream what I did
As he stands by my window 
And looks out on those
Brooklyn Roads
Brooklyn Roads

Words and music by Neil Diamond
© 1968 Stonebridge Music

The Songwriter:  The music of Neil Diamond –– catchy, emotional, steering an occasionally tricky path between good time folk rock and searing personal ballads –– served as the soundtrack to my childhood thanks to my parents and their shared obsession with his popular 1972
double live LP Hot August Night.  Their copy of the album seldom left the cassette deck of our chunky brown stereo system and accompanied us on every family holiday and car journey of any substantial duration, its songs becoming a permanent fixture in the lives of myself and my sister courtesy of our almost daily exposure to them.

But as much as I loved Hot August Night, it was my discovery –– around the age of twelve or so –– of the other Neil Diamond albums in my parents' record collection which proved to be the turning point in my musical education, particularly his third 1968 LP Velvet Gloves and Spit (reissued in Australia in 1973 under the more marketable title Brooklyn Roads)This was the first record not by Elvis Presley that I felt compelled to listen to all the way through in one sitting and then listened to repeatedly, often while lying on my bed in the dark so as to focus more intensively on its lyrics.  The song that affected me the most was the album's title track, a kind of abbreviated Proustian reassembling of the singer's past set to moodily dramatic music which still possesses the ability to plunge me into a mood of reflective nostalgia any time I hear it.

And why is that exactly?  Unlike Neil Diamond, I did not grow up as the eldest son of orthodox Jewish parents in a Brooklyn apartment house during the 1940s and 1950s, speaking Yiddish before I spoke English.  But I did do a lot of standing at windows and daydreaming as I looked out of them, just as I was often told by teachers and my parents that I had a 'good head' that could become better if only I would buckle down and conscientiously apply myself to my studies.  In hindsight I realize that Brooklyn Roads was the first piece of art –– and what is a pop song if not one of the more accessible forms of art? –– that made me feel it was acceptable to be precisely who and what I was.  It was also the first song I heard that made me yearn to write songs of my own or, to put it more broadly, to express my thoughts in language that aspired to (if never actually reached) the level of poetry.  I was never going to grow up to be a doctor (as Diamond himself was expected to and for a short time studied to become), a lawyer or an accountant.  If I was going to be anything, then I was going to be somebody who used language to both describe and hopefully affect human emotions –– something I've been attempting to do, with admittedly limited success, for more than forty years.

I'm far from being the only person in the world who feels an enduring emotional connection to this particular Neil Diamond tune.  The comments section of YouTube is filled with remarks from people who found something in Brooklyn Roads which spoke to and continues to speak to them of their own lives and those of their families, immigrant and non-immigrant alike.  The song's power as a work of art lies in its ability to simultaneously revive and recapture those lost memories, allowing listeners to connect with their own past while listening to a musical composition which specifically references the childhood of its creator.  This is no easy feat to pull off from a songwriting point of view and nor should it be scorned or undervalued.  Our experiences form us but it is our memories of those experiences that combine to make us the individuals we are.  And nothing serves as a more effective (and affective) entry point into the past than the modern popular song, hence its ongoing position at the centre of contemporary Western culture.

Neil Diamond once told an interviewer that he would like his music to be categorized as 'theatrical rock,' a perhaps surprising admission for a performer whose style, to the casual listener, may seem to be firmly anchored in the classic 1960s pop tradition.  But this description of his music is not the misnomer it may at first appear to be.  The only recording artist I can reasonably compare him to is the great Belgian born chansonnier Jacques Brel, another performer whose best songs are intensely theatrical and create vivid pictures in the mind and whose impassioned style of delivery could be a little daunting to listeners who preferred music to be a bland background noise that neither stirred the soul nor forced them to confront their own emotions.  (Brel also wrote songs about his childhood, one of which –– Mon Enfance [My Childhood] –– recreates his experiences as a child growing up in Nazi occupied Brussels at the beginning of World War Two.)  Nor does it strike me as a coincidence that Diamond chose to record a version of If You Go Away, Rod McKuen's popular English translation of Brel's Ne Me Quitte Pas [Don't Leave Me], for his 1971 LP Stones.  While Diamond and Brel never met to the best of my knowledge, they were kindred spirits in a sense, sharing a gift for creating music that managed to be both highly personal while speaking directly to people about their own lives in intimate yet highly dramatic ways.  

Not bad for a Jewish kid from Brooklyn who attended ten different public schools because he had problems fitting in with his fellow students.  If that was the case, then it was possibly because he had more important things –– like creating timeless popular music –– to occupy his thoughts rather than doing whatever was necessary to blend in with the crowd.

Click HERE to visit the website of US singer-songwriter, musician, producer and actor NEIL DIAMOND.

Sadly, NEIL DIAMOND was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in January 2018, bringing to a premature end what can only be described as a remarkable fifty-six year career in the music industry.  As someone whose own father suffered from this debilitating disease and died as a result of it in 2006, I wish NEIL DIAMOND and his family the very best for the future, whatever it may bring.

Special thanks to everyone who takes the time to upload music to YouTube.  Your efforts are appreciated by music lovers everywhere.

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UNE VIE INTENSE Remembering Jacques Brel
WORDS FOR THE MUSIC #7: Rickie Lee Jones

Thursday, 19 December 2019

THE WRITE ADVICE #127: Hubert Aquin

I have nothing to gain from going on writing.  But I go on anyway, though I’m writing at a loss.  No, that’s a lie: for the past few minutes I’ve known perfectly well that I will gain something from this game, I’ll gain time: an interval I cover with erasures and phonemes, fill with syllables and howls, cram with all my acknowledged atoms, multiples of a totality they’ll never equal.

Prochain épisode [Next Episode] (1965)

Click HERE to read more about the life and work of Québécois novelist, essayist, filmmaker and political activist HUBERT AQUIN.

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THE WRITE ADVICE #107: Felicia Mihali
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Thursday, 12 December 2019

THINK ABOUT IT #51: Michael Palin

I think for a long while you're yourself, or who you think you are.  And then you become something which is somebody else's and it is their view of you.  So I'd be on a programme because I'm a celebrity and I'd think: 'I'm not a celebrity –– I'm me.'
    Occasionally I can deal with that quite happily.  You just act it.  But other times it got to me and I thought 'I'm not being able to be myself.'  I think that's the key to a lot of my anxiety.  And the work I do is actually trying to remember who I am and what I can do rather than become a sort of figment of what people want me to be.  People say: 'You're a great star; you're a national treasure; you've done all this brilliant stuff.'  It just embarrasses me.  It's not the way I feel about myself.

Quoted in Anxiety: A Very Short Introduction (2012)

Click HERE to read more about the book Anxiety: A Very Short Introduction (2012) by DANIEL FREEMAN and JASON FREEMAN

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THINK ABOUT IT #43: Karen Horney 
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Thursday, 5 December 2019

THE WRITE ADVICE #126: Pamela Frankau

Should somebody penetrate the barbed-wire entanglement of my handwriting and read my Rough [draft], it would make little sense to him.  He would find bewildering changes of time and place.  The people would confound him with sudden new characteristics.  Some would change their looks.  Some would be whisked away without explanation.  Some would put in a late appearance, yet be greeted by the rest as though they had been there from the beginning.  He would find, this reader, traces of style followed by no style at all; pedestrian phrases, clichés, straight flat-footed reporting.  Here a whole sequence of scenes complete and next some mingy skeleton stuff with a burst of apparently contemptuous hieroglyphs on the blank left-hand page beside it.  Nor is the left-hand page reserved for “Exp” (meaning Expand), “X” (meaning Wrong), “//” (meaning much the same as “X” only more so) and “?” (meaning what it says).  The left-hand page is likely to be a shambles, taking afterthought insertions for the right-hand page; paragraphs whose position may not be indicated at all.  No; a reader would have no more fun with the Rough than the writer is having.

Pen To Paper: A Novelist's Notebook (1962)

Click HERE to read a fascinating article about British novelist PAMELA FRANKAU (1908-1967) on the excellent literary website Neglected Books.

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Tuesday, 5 November 2019

BENTLEY RUMBLE Blues for Eddie Clay (2014)

'The only safe place for a 
citizen to be is the place where 
Mister Gray ain't at.'


Camp Weaver, located near the small towns of Pickettville and Greeley, is a US Army Training Base where black draftees are sent to be trained for combat by exclusively white officers and noncoms  

is an ailing black jazz musician, former star clarinet-player of the Pee-Wee Gardiner Orchestra, drafted by mistake into an army he's physically and emotionally incapable of serving 

is a young Italian-American Corporal, a longtime fan of Eddie's music, committed to saving his hero from the cruelty of his fellow noncoms and the callous indifference of their new commanding officer

is Eddie's Drill Sergeant, a thirty year veteran recently wounded in combat, hiding a secret of his own that's slowly destroying him

is their story 

A haunting tale of brutality and courage, friendship and despair told in the individual voices of the men themselves, set in a time when American values were being tested on the homefront every bit as savagely as they were being tested on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific 


v2.0 / 213 pages / 85,055 words / 1.2 MB
Last updated: November 2019

Blues For Eddie Clay (2014) [v2.0] – Bentley Rumble

Contains violence, sexual references and some coarse &/or potentially offensive language.

You might also enjoy:
BENTLEY RUMBLE The Rush and Other Stories (2019) [v1.1]
BENTLEY RUMBLE Recognition: A Novel (2009, revised 2013)
JAZZ ICONS #1: Lester Young

Thursday, 31 October 2019

THINK ABOUT IT #50: Rollo May

Anxiety has a purpose.  Originally the purpose was to protect the existence of the caveman from wild beasts and savage neighbors.  Nowadays the occasions for anxiety are very different –– we are afraid of losing out in the competition, feeling unwanted, isolated, and ostracized.  But the purpose of anxiety is still to protect us from dangers that threaten the same things:  our existence or values that we identify with our existence.  This normal anxiety of life cannot be avoided except at the price of apathy or the numbing of one's sensibilities and imagination.
    The omnipresence of anxiety arises from the fact that, when all is said and done, anxiety is our human awareness of the fact that each of us is a being confronted with nonbeing.  Nonbeing is that which would destroy being, such as death, severe illness, interpersonal hostility, too sudden change which destroys our psychobehavior, we do not need to resort to such crass examples as our walking down the other side of the street to avoid meeting someone who reduces our self-esteem.  In all sorts of subtle ways, the manner in which people talk, joke, argue with each other demonstrates their need to establish their security by proving they are in control of the situation, avoiding what would otherwise be anxiety-creating situations.  The quiet despair under which Thoreau believed most people live is largely covered over by our culturally accepted ways of allaying anxiety.
    Such avoidance of anxiety is the purpose of many behavior traits which are called 'normal,' and can be termed 'neurotic' only in their extreme, compulsive forms.  'Gallows humor' comes to the fore particularly in times of anxiety; and, like all humor, it gives people a welcomed distance from the threat.  Human beings do not often say outright, 'We laugh that we may not cry;' but they much more often feel that way.  The ubiquitous joking in the army and on the battle field are examples of the function of humor to keep one from being overcome by anxiety.  The public speaker tells a joke to start his speech, fully aware that the laughter will relieve the tension with which people confront him as he stands at the podium, a tension which could otherwise lead to anxiety-motivated resistance to the message he is trying to communicate.

The Meaning of Anxiety (1950, revised 1977)

Click HERE to read a short introduction to the theory and practice of Existential Psychotherapy.  To watch a short YouTube video (10 minutes) which explains the work of US Existential Psychotherapist ROLLO MAY, please click HERE.

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