Oral histories

As I keep tinkering with the first proper draft of When We Were the Kids, I stand firm that this should be told in the oral history format. There are way too many characters that a third-person narrator and a narrative would be detrimental. There are a lot of voices and it can't just be one person.

In a roundabout way, the oral histories I've read in the past ten years have served as examples of what I want to do and what I don't want to do my book. Aside from Punk Rock, I've read (or am about to read) every oral history I know of. I've read Please Kill Me, U2 by U2, All Over But the Shouting, and so on. I hope to read I'll Sleep When I'm Dead and The Clash sometime this year.

I still stand behind the idea that Fool the World is the best oral history I've ever read. The way the story of the Pixies unfolds is fantastic and pretty much everyone ever involved with the band has something good to say. The flow is what I'm trying to do with WWWTK.

I've blogged before that Gimme Something Better has inspired me. It's quite a good read for those interested in the San Francisco/Bay Area punk scene, from the Avengers to Operation Ivy to Green Day. And definitely easier to digest than Please Kill Me.

What I hope won't be an issue is that the story of WWWTK is fictional, but told in a format that has traditionally been 99 percent nonfiction. I don't think I should run a disclaimer or something since authors like Bret Easton Ellis and Dave Eggers do not do such with stories that are very autobiographical. I'm not comparing myself to them here; I just think I should just tell a story and tell the publisher it should be filed under "Music, Fiction."

As I've read in oral histories like Live From New York, I've decided that I don't want each quote to be too long. Meaning, many single quotes take half of page or more. Something I learned in a screenwriting class in college has made me think the shorter the quote, the better.

So, that's the rough update on Book #2. I'm still in the mode of "write your damn book, then worry about how to release it." I'm really excited about how the stories are unfolding. Stay tuned.


That Guy Kyle said…
"Gonzo", the Hunter Thompson biography that Jann Werner put out, is a great oral history book.

For fiction, Chuck Palahniuk's "Rant" is genius.