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On a Cold Road: Tales of Adventure in Canadian RockOn a Cold Road: Tales of Adventure in Canadian Rock by Dave Bidini

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't love the book nor do I think it's one I recommend for Canada Reads. It was too scattered for me; there's this central narrative from the Rheostatics interspersed with stories from these other Canadian bands but I couldn't tell where Dave Bidini was going with it all. Either write about the Rheostatics or about the other bands. Or if a combination is absolutely necessary, change it somehow. I can appreciate that it was more of an oral history and I did think the format was interesting but it didn't hang for me. I could see the connections sometimes but other times, the stories felt randomly stuck in. Also, I wish there was more background about each of the bands/musicians; I was gleaning some narrative to tie it together but not enough to paint a proper picture.  I don't think non-fiction has to necessarily be like a novel, with a beginning, middle and end, but I think there should be a path the writer is leading you on or a direction the writer is pointing to. Bidini could've done this better, I think, if the stories were separated better but even so, I can see how the individual bits wouldn't have worked exactly because they were all basically transcriptions of interviews. Although, I wonder how this would work as a documentary or movie.

The description of how the band broke up was interesting to me though; of how, even though the members were great friends and loved each other, the relationships became toxic; also, how the payoff gradually decreased and how the balance tipped in terms of how much each member was wiling to put up with the (actual) bad for the (potential) good.

I guess I did enjoy the central narrative and I really enjoyed the more "travelogue" aspects. Overall, there were great parts but the book wasn't greater than the sum of them.

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January 2013

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