Wednesday, May 07, 2008

When We Get to Surf City

Bob Greene's books make me nostalgic for a past that I never knew. He brought the Homefront to life in Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen. His novel, All Summer Long, made me want to take off across country. And, he manages to bring the music world of the 1960s to life in When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through American in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams.

In 1992, Greene opened a letter from Gary Griffin, another reader who was caught up in his book, Be True to Your School. Griffin, who made his living as a musician with Jan and Dean's touring band, noticed an entry in that diary of 1964 about Greene's purchase of one of their albums. He invited Greene to meet the band, and suddenly, Greene's life, and his summers, took a dramatic change. For the next fifteen years, Bob Greene spent his summers meeting up with Jan and Dean, and their band, so he could first watch, and then perform, with them.

In midlife, Greene found himself living a dream. Each summer, he escaped with a group of "Lost Boys," men who lived to play and sing on stage, and enjoy their own company. In fine detail, Greene discusses life on the road, the good and the bad. He met the idols of his teen years, the Beach Boys, Jerry Lee Lewis, James Brown, the Everly Brothers, and, of course, Jan and Dean. He tells the tragic story of Jan Berry, his car accident, and the changes in his life and career. At the same time, Greene observed Jan's courage, and his determination.

Every time I read Bob Greene's books, I feel as if I'm reading my husband's past. Greene is about the same age, and shares similar memories of rock and roll, small town Ohio, and growing up in the fifties and sixties. Greene and my husband could both be "Lost Boys," still searching for their youth. Bob Greene is able to bring that past vividly to life. He's also unashamed to talk about the small details of male friendship, something most men never talk about. In all of his books, and, When We Get to Surf City is no exception, Bob Greene "captures the freedom and the exhilaration and the blithesome mornings of our world."

When We Get to Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship, and Dreams by Bob Greene. St. Martin's Press, ©2008. ISBN 978-0312375294 (hardcover), 352p.


Jim said...

I love Bob Greene's books. I treasure our e-mail correspondence. I hope someday to meet him & have him sign my books. Surprising he has mentioned vacationing at Mittiwanga, Ohio. Where I used to hang out in the summers. I still wonder if we ever ran into him? Great review honey.

Love you.... Jim

Lesa said...

I can't wait to hear what you think of the book, and the kind of memories it brings back. At least you had the chance to see Jan and Dean perform.

Les said...

Excellent review. I need to buy this for my husband. He just turned 56 and grew-up in L.A. (the "Valley"). Music has always been a part of his life. He was in a band as a teenager (played the guitar) and I have a feeling he'd love this book. I know he enjoyed Greene's Once Upon a Town (a book I really want/need to read, since we live in Nebraska!). Thanks for bringing this new book to my attention.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Les. I agree. You really need to buy this book for your husband. He sounds as if it will be about his music. Just hope he doesn't decide to hit the road as a "Lost Boy"!

Les said...

Just a quick note. My husband is thoroughly enjoying this book, Lesa. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Lesa said...

Thanks, Les! I'm glad he's enjoying it. I love to be an enabler for other readers!