Best of 2020: Rhett Miller Loved Utopia Avenue

David Mitchell's novel was a "splendid diversion."

David Mitchell’s new novel Utopia Avenue offered a splendid diversion during the pandemic. His books are typically tricky and this one is no exception. But it offers an element of fun, set as it is in the late ’60s music scene, that will make it more accessible to general audiences. It’s hard to get music and musicians right in fiction. Otherwise brilliant writers have hit uncharacteristically sour notes when trying to do justice to the world of rock and roll: See Elmore Leonard’s Be Cool. It’s not that Mitchell’s depiction is so realistic — cameos by the likes of Bowie and Jimi Hendrix are a little too perfect and convenient. But he captures the alternating experience of ecstasy and tedium that is the life of a rock and roller. Given that I have lost access to that life during the pandemic, I enjoyed visiting David Mitchell’s Utopia Avenue.

Rhett Miller is the frontman of the Old 97’s, and has released five solo albums. The most recent Old 97’s album, Twelfth, is available now via ATO Records. You can follow the Old 97’s on Twitter here, and Miller on Twitter here.