Review by: Amy Morgenstern

May 2003

Head Case, a Rock and Roll Novel
By Kathleen Strelow
ISBN: 0595222560


After reading the first three pages of Head Case, a Rock and Roll Novel, by Kathleen Strelow, I came to a conclusion from which I would not stray while reading the rest of this story about Regi Sebastian, a girl hard rock drummer trying to stay sober. The conclusion? Publishing on demand is a very bad idea.

The book begins as Regi and her hunk front-man husband, Mickey (who “stood five feet eight inches tall with chocolate brown eyes, long blond hair and tan beach bum looks”), attend a “big Hollywood party” in honor of their tenth wedding anniversary, which also happens to coincide with the comeback of their rock band, Pages, after a two-year hiatus. We learn in the first paragraph that the hiatus was mainly due to the recovery time needed for Regi and Mickey who were in a “devastating motorcycle accident.” We never really find out anything about this accident—only that Regi, while in a drunken stupor, had insisted on driving herself and Mickey on their motorcycle and that Mickey took the responsibility for the accident to “save Regi from the publicity.” Why Mickey would take the rap for the accident is a true puzzle. Equally mysterious is the author’s introduction of Mickey, two years after the fact, as a doting, resentment-free husband. Now if my drunken, belligerent life partner had caused both of my arms and every one of my fingers to be broken, I would be a little pissed. I would at least need some couple’s therapy. But Mickey and Regi seem to be floating through life, despite this little setback, as only the thinnest and emptiest characters will do. While in the middle of the book, I even completely forgot that Regi was a drummer, and except for a few gratuitous references to Kiss, the world of music and of the musician is absent from this book.

Needless to say, Head Case proceeds from one clichéd, predictable, melodramatic plot turn to the next. For example, at one point in the book, Regi is found wrestling on the floor with her band mate Jesse (“a rebel, six feet tall and solid, with dark eyes and jet-black hair that was long and unruly”) for the gun he was about to use to kill himself because his manipulative, bitchy girlfriend first tricked him into thinking she was pregnant and then dumped him for another man. There is an explosion and then blood, but no matter, for it turns out that no one was shot and the blood simply came from the gun hitting Regi’s face. She, of course—paper doll masochist that she is—takes this all in stride and the very next day is found to be scar-free both inside and out, throwing a barbecue bash on her beachfront property, and proclaiming her deep sense of friendship for him. “I knew I could count on you,” she says. “You never let me down.” So what if he nearly blew her brains out the day before? All’s well that ends well.

I visited the Strelow’s website which states her plans for a sequel to this book, tentatively called Whiplash. I suggest that before she squander her money away to iUniverse Press, which clearly wants to get as much cash out of authors as possible, she subject her writing to good, critical scrutiny. Otherwise, she is wasting her time and money.

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