Monday, January 28, 2008
monday book review: sway, a novel; by zachary lazar

I am not a child of the sixties. Heck, I’m barely even a child of the seventies. But even still, I couldn't help but be fascinated with Zachary Lazar’s Sway - a engrossing novel dealing with the intersection of three 60’s icons: Charles Manson, The Rolling Stones, and occult filmmaker Kenneth Anger (Invocation of my Demon Brother, Scorpio Rising). Despite using factual people, Sway is clearly a work of fiction; despite being a novel, it reads more like a series of character studies; and rather than romanticizing the 1960s, Lazar uses motifs of Satanism, drug culture, homoerotica and violence to approach the oft romanticized decade from a much darker angle. With three protagonists: Kenneth Anger – a experimental filmmaker who often found inspiration in Satanism and the occult, Bobby Beausoleil - a handsome, young musician, actor and eventual murderous member of the Manson clan, and Brian Jones – founder of the Rolling Stones who was later spurned by the group before drowning in his own swimming pool at age 27; Lazar weaves together three stories that not only intersect, but also darkly echo one another. I’m not particularly a fan of the Rolling Stones, I know next to nothing about Anger, and I’m only mildly interested in the infamous Manson clan, so I suspect a lot of Lazar’s more minor references and plot details were lost on me, but it was a highly engaging read even still. I felt that the back half of the novel dragged a bit so I can’t say that I absolutely loved Sway, but I ended with a deep appreciation for both Lazar’s story and the artful approach he took to telling it.

Sway, A Novel
Zachary Lazar
2008, 272 pages

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