BOOK REVIEW: SWAY: A NOVEL
Author Lazar takes readers back to the 1960s with his interesting book Sway. He uses Bobby Beausoleil to weave together the early years of The Rolling Stones, life on the Charles Mason ranch and filmmaker Kenneth Anger. While the characters in Sway are real, and at least parts of the incidents told are true, this is a work of fiction.
Readers are first taken inside the early years of the Manson family before their crime spree started and they were mostly a band of middle class kids who had been entranced by Charles Manson. In fact, Lazar gets the title for the book from this state, as in, the kids were under Manson's “sway.” Through the various stories in the book, readers watch the Manson family “develop” into the horror show that most people remember. At this point, Bobby Beausoleil, though somewhat of an outsider to the family, is living with the family.
Next we are with The Rolling Stones in the very beginning of their career when they are still trying to sort out the hierarchy of the group and developing their musical voice. The group dynamics in these early years is certainly different from what the group became.
Lastly readers meet Kenneth Anger, a filmmaker. During the time period of Sway, he produces a film called Invocation of my Demon Brother, which has both the Rolling Stones, as themselves, and Bobby Beausoleil appear.
As a reader it was a bit difficult to remember while reading the book that this is a work of fiction. It all seemed very plausible. I was interested to see exactly how much of the story presented was real, so I looked up both Kenneth Anger and Bobby Beausoleil and found that the book portrays each very accurately and the movie with The Rolling Stones, Beausoleil and Anger was as depicted.
As often happens with the passing of time, it seems only the better parts of the 1960s are remembered by most Americans. Lazar has done a fantastic job of blending fact with fiction while revisiting one of the most memorable periods in recent American history. He also helps us remember the darker side of the era.
REVIEWED BY CARYN ST. CLAIR
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