Starving in The Company of Beautiful Women [Michael W. Dean]

Book Reviews
Starving in The Company of Beautiful Women [Michael W. Dean]
Sep 27, 2000, 03:48

STARVING IN THE COMPANY OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN by Michael W. Dean; Kittyfeet Press, 2000

The author is a pretentious, rather dismal looking fellow who happens to have a probing self-awareness to the point of distraction. The book is a case study of Cash Newmann, a similarly pretentious antagonist cum “rock star.” His omnisexuality, his purposeful decadence, his inanity and his absolute self-righteousness portray someone we all know. How many of us can say we have known and even been fond of a person who's a complete pain-in-the-ass? Author Dean puts this in the most certain terms.

Cash Newmann is a name-dropping music world nobody whose identity hinges on the fame and fortune of his band. His tale is one of heroin addiction, $8,000 royalty checks, and compulsive, conquest-ridden sex. The reader takes in his commonly dysfunctional upbringing, his forays into the punk rock scene in DC circa early 1980s, on to San Francisco, where he settles in the Haight.

“I pulled the half-smoked ciggy butt out of my pocket and lit it. I took a deep drag and thought about the politically correct lesbian who had taken me home and seduced me. I met her at the VD clinic. She smiled at me and she was alone. I said “Hi, come here often?”

It's like this and it's good. The fantasies the author lives through his pen are those of almost any post-punk music hack who had some singles and CDs out and about but was still taking in bottles for a pack of smokes and a quart of Miller. The drugs—heroin, coke, acid, whatever—are consumed with the familiar mixed-drink emotion of guilt and excitement. (“Gee, your heroin smells terrific”) The earnestness is scrapped only when the script—which is what it often reads as—turns to the half-baked lyrics that could only be written by someone without a touch of taste. Likewise off-putting are the thinly-veiled references to bands such as Flipper—referred to here as Fibber, and the Dead Kennedys—Red Kennedys; Dean also sprinkles in references to Leonard Cohen, Melvins, et. al. Cloying never read so good, though.

This is the stuff we read about now, things that many late thirties and early forties can relate to with ease and little regret. The people who were dumped on the way to whatever passes for adulthood are simply chapters that were never as serious as they seemed at the time.

This book is about perspective. Cash Newmann—a fictional character who carries more truth than even the self-absorbed author would know—has some and it's contagious.

-Steve Miller

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