Drowning By Numbers
Emerging from the wreckage of another lost weekend, Indie Guitarist of the Year, Joe E Byron, hurries home on the Tube to face the consequences of his actions. Ten years on the road has taken its toll. He should be spending more time with Justine and the kids. Instead, he's restless, angry, and in conflict with his manager and the rest of the band. Dark habits threaten his marriage and career. The curse of addiction that will rob him of everything. And at the heart of it all, a yearning to be free, to take off and never come back.
But that can't happen. There's too much at stake.
He's a god.<
He's a legend.
And the only thing worse than dying is the prospect of fading away.
So much for the glamour and hedonism of the rock-star life.
Joe E Byron is diving headlong towards the bottom of the barrel, through drink and whatever drugs he can score from his obnoxious and unhinged dealer, Danny, and his seriously well-connected backing singer, Carla.
Joe E Byron, the led character in the novel, is far from likable. He’s an addict in need of a intervention, but can’t muster the self-motivation to kick his old habits and get clean. His spiral into depression and self-loathing is well written as we follow his "Terrible, No Good, Very Bad few weeks” freewheeling around the pubs and dives of Notting Hill, trying to pull himself together. Not even the prospect of losing his family can force him out this funk and towards some self directed plan of action. He’s a crisp bag, blown here and there by the wind, with no direction home.
Although the book is very well written, with punchy dialogue and poignant observations, I couldn’t help but wish there was more action to drive the plot. One of the reasons I wanted to review this book was because I lived in Notting Hill at that time. He invokes the setting well, but with maybe too much detailed description at times.
The music industry has been very well researched in the book and there are characters and situations the reader will instantly recognize and relate to. I just wish there were a few more new riffs to be had on the subject.
Joe’s story ends with more of a fade out rather than a kicking over of the drum kit or a guitar neck into the amp, but it’s true to the theme of the book: you can’t help an addict until they’re ready to help themselves. Drowning By Numbers makes a for a good read for readers interested in absurdities and the flip-side of success, and how an all-consuming, addictive personality ruins not just their own lives, but the lives of everyone who cares for them.