Let me show you the book that ruined GRRM’s career years before A Song of Ice and FIre exploded internationally.
“The Armageddon Rag” is about a man in his thirties, Sandy Blair, who used to be part of the Movement in the 60s and believe in bettering the world and human society. Now, in the 80s, he’s a struggling novelist and lives together with a realtor in a brownstone in Brooklyn. He misses the old days. The consumerist 80s feel strange and dead to him.
So when his hold nemesis Jared, who kicked him out of their common underground newspaper and sold out to a big chain, calls and suggests he do a story on the murder of a former rock promoter, Sandy is not uninterested. The dead promoter, Jamie Lynch, was at the time the hottest promoter in the scene, signing huge names like The Nazgûl. Sandy now has the option to investigate this murder and combine this with a nostalgic piece on the old times and where its protagonists have all gone to. Even though he is way behind on his deadline for a novel and his partner as well as his agent strongly oppose him, he defies them and hits the road, hardly anticipating the sad, strange and thrilling places it will take him to….
“The Armageddon Rag” is a book for everyone who loves the 60s, or, for that matter, soulful music before commercialism completely took over and moved into the music itself. It’s also a melodrama and as such has some of the weaknesses of one, like way too long passages where Sandy talks to imagined ghosts and has psychedelic dreams. On the other hand, it’s part of the genre, part of the flavor, so all good.
Funnily enough, this is also the book that sold so badly that GRRM had to give up on writing novels and instead move to Hollywood to work there as a screenwriter for 10 years. Then, in the early 90s, the scene where the Starks find the direwolves lightened up his mind. The rest is history.
Bottom Line: A terrific book about the passage of time and what it does to the human soul as well as about Hendrix, Morrison, the Beatles and the rest of ’em. Oh, and there’s lots of Tolkien in there too! Believe me, you’ll love this book. And if you don’t believe me, believe the King! Read!!