Followers of literary fiction will find Uncle Joe’s Muse a fun, engrossing story of a struggling (yet still-aspiring) rock band filled with misfits who have failed in their roles as husbands and fathers, and are facing yet another failure with their musical careers in Uncle Joe’s Band.
Enter twelve-year-old rebel Allison, who shows up on the porch of the band’s house with the mandate by her mother to stay with her father for the summer.
Allison’s presence changes everything, challenging the lifestyle they’ve built for themselves, their ambitions, and their uncertain futures, both individually and as a band.
The band has a history of failures… will they fail at this unexpected important task of supporting a fatherhood that none of them had succeeded in before?
Micah Thorp describes the members with an unerring attention to honest psychological detail: “Like the band’s sound, the band members were a complex morass of anti-intellectual, unsocial and unhealthy personage, notable for their nodular livers, honeycombed lungs and never-ending break ups. Relationships were particularly difficult for the individual musicians. The emotional intelligence of the band mates could best be approximated by watching the verbal interplay between professional wrestlers, or the behavior of feral cats.”
As the story unfolds, Thorp injects into this sordid milieu the foundations of unexpected stability and new possibilities.
The band members work together on the new parenting challenges which range from Allison’s venture to the mall with a boy to her equally mercurial and undefined hopes for her future, which she explores with Ian as their friendship evolves.
Thorp focuses on family relationships, dysfunction, and new beginnings as fathers, band members, and children hone both their separate and interconnected visions of the future.
His story is especially revealing as it contrasts ambitions, dreams, and family ties during the course of a journey that changes all its participants.
On the face of it, Uncle Joe’s Muse covers the efforts of adults who have never manned up to their life objectives and responsibilities. But underneath these relationships lies an undercurrent of change steeped in California culture and changing definitions of what constitutes musical and personal success.
Allison, her father, and her surrogate father band members evolve in different ways against the backdrop of these changing times.
Readers who choose the novel for its musical roots and coming-of-age flavor will be happy to see that it reaches for more than a few predictable notes, expanding the characters and their ambitions to new levels. Uncle Joe’s Muse is highly recommended for readers of maturity stories that represent evolution at different stages of life.
Related: Read An Excerpt From Uncle Joe’s Muse By Micah Thorp
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