I really struggled with this review, not because I didn’t love the story, I do. Daron’s Guitar Chronicles is a web serial posted by Cecelia Tan two or three times a week. I became addicted to DGC last summer, voraciously clicking through chapter after chapter, until I finally caught up and experienced the agony of waiting for the next post. It is not a dirty secret but something that I immerse myself in and cache the experience and find hard to share.
In mid-1989; Daron Moondog Marks is a guitar hero in a rising band, Moondog Three. Daron is one of those music virtuosos who can play anything and make it sound amazing. Serendipity and his own talent have provided him with opportunities to learn the music business well before he had a band of his own. Volume Four of DGC starts with Daron recovering in his Boston home from the band’s last whirlwind tour and preparing for the tour coming up where M3 will headline for six-weeks. In between the preparations for the new tour and recovery from the last, there is a lot of unfinished angst floating about.
Daron worries about the band are they making enough money; it’s basically his company, everyone works for him. Then there’s his dad, Digger, the band’s manager, who may or may not be embezzling from them. Daron is still in love with his lead singer, Ziggy, even though Daron broke things off with him because Ziggy’s head games made their relationship toxic. Daron also loves rock journalist Jonathan, but is not in love with him and their relationship is more hit and miss, separated by distance. Ziggy has done what singers do: get famous and make a movie. Will this tour be the band’s last? Daron is gay but not out. This is a minor problem with Jonathan but more so with Ziggy. Well, before they broke up. At this point in his tale, Daron has come out to maybe twenty people but he is hardly comfortable with that and does not realize he is out more than he knows.
Besides Daron’s self-deprecating, fourth wall-breaking, first person narrative, the supporting cast of secondary and minor character make the story real and enveloping. Bassist/friend Bart, the voice of common sense; drummer/housemate Chris, older than the others with demons to chase; efficient, dependable road manager Carynne, the techs and roadies, producers, and waitresses, nobody is left flat. This installment of Daron’s story, like the previous volumes, has more musical theory than I will ever understand, insight into the management of a rock tour and music memories in the name of every chapter from the likes of XTC and Peter Murphy that fit the action perfectly. There’s sex, and homophobia, and drugs, and Daron with his talent, his trust issues, and his SOP of waiting for things to blow over or work themselves out instead of confronting them head on. If you are looking for a story where the story matters and you do not need sex in every chapter, read Daron. Note: reviewed from author-provided ARC.