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Needle in the Groove [Paperback]

Jeff Noon
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 May 2001
After years of playing in two-bit bands, Elliot gets his big chance - he meets a singer, a DJ and a drummer who seem to have everything. But just as their first dance record is climbing the charts, one of the band disappears.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New edition edition (1 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552999199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552999199
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 12.4 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 651,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeff Noon was born in Manchester in 1957. He was trained in the visual arts, and was musically active on the punk scene before starting to write plays for the theatre. His first novel, Vurt, was published in 1993 and went on to win the Arthur C. Clarke Award. His other books include Pollen, Automated Alice, Nymphomation, Pixel Juice, Needle in the Groove, Cobralingus, Falling Out Of Cars and most recently Channel Sk1n. His plays include Woundings, The Modernists and Dead Code.

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Product Description

Amazon Review

we make music down there, all the week/and I have to say, away from the club, the band is even better/we make a noise like I've never known, just this one great stripped-raw channel of searching out/for the first time in years, I'm actually playing something/all the smalltown dregs of flair get magnified and yer know what, I can't help falling in love with the whole idea of being brilliant/to be myself at last, lost in the rhythm
Needle In The Groove, Jeff Noon's fifth novel, follows his short story collection Pixel Juice and confirms him as one of the most inventive and exciting of modern British writers. Set, like his previous books, in a slightly futuristic, reimagined Manchester (where, in this novel, streets are named after musicians and bands such as Joy Division, The Fall, 808 State and A Guy Called Gerald), the book follows Elliot Hill, a bass player and ex-junkie trudging the pub-rock circuit, who is invited to join a new band: fusing DJ artistry, voice and rhythm section, the group's hypnotic groove creation is augmented by a startling new recording technology. The band seems bound for success--until one of them vanishes. Elliot's subsequent search draws him into a secret history of music that stretches back 40 years and into his own past.

Noon's admitted affinity for music over literature as a source for inspiration takes concrete form here: the book takes the idea of the remix as it's formal--and thematic--principle. Where William Burroughs, in the 1950s and '60s, looked to collage--to formal innovation in the visual arts--as inspiration for his textual cut-ups, Noon's spur for rethinking modern prose is the revolution in music in the last two decades: the sample, the mix and the manipulation of sound provide the lexicon and grammar for his experiments with language. Although by no means the first to rethink writing in this way (Kodwo Eshun's "conceptual engineering" in More Brilliant than the Sun or Simon Reynolds' take on dance music in Energy Flash apply sonic invention and mixology to music criticism), Noon's use of musical techniques genuinely attempts to extend the possibilities of fiction. Love, desire, the metaphoric architecture of literature are all reimagined through his "liquid dub poetics": by taking near-clichés of fiction--the tensions between father and son, the (bizarre) love triangle--and subjecting them to the interference of linguistic experiment, Noon balances a compelling, straight narrative against the warped logic of the mix. It reads like a technologised, nervy version of Modernist stream of consciousness, punctuated by the backslash, that ubiquitous partitioner of URLs and familiar of Web-surfers everywhere. Pulp fiction meets dub? Just get into the groove. --Burhan Tufail --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

A fictional trip through pop culture.

After years of playing bass in lousy two-bit bands, Elliot finally gets his big chance/he meets a singer, a dj and a drummer who seem to have everything/passion, talent, hypnotic songs and a whole new way of funky seduction/but just as their first dance record is climbing the charts, one of them disappears/Elliot's search for the missing musician becomes a wild, fiercely emotional trip into the dark soul of rhythm/and in the grooves he discovers a world where love is a ghost lost in the boom box/and the only remix that really matters is the remix of the heart.

If music were a drug, where would it take you?

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Beautiful... 31 May 2000
By A Customer
Finally there comes a book which depicts modern music and it's culture in all their (somewhat dubious) glory. From chilled-out ambience and dub through to frenetic funk, banging house/garage and drum 'n bass, the text follows these styles as it is remixed.
At first it is not easy to follow this radical new literary concept, but once you have slipped into James Joyce [on acid] mode, you won't be able to put the book down. Indeed - the narrative encourages the reader to lose themselves in just the same way as if they were losing themselves to the groove of a DJ tunes in a club... You can see it in their eyes, and one can't help but feel sorry that unlike a DJ, Jeff Noon can't see his readers eyes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great novel for beatheads 16 May 2000
By A Customer
Luckily I came to this novel free from any expectations, being largely new to Jeff Noon. And as a music lover somewhat bemused by how few good imaginative books ever seem to get written about music, I think it's got lots going for it.
The style of writing is clipped and condensed yet powerfully resonant. The plot similarly so. Both of which allow the reader to spend time savouring the milieu - Manchester music and all that fuels it (drugs, misery, love, ambition).
Ian McEwen it clearly ain't. This novel reads like it issues from a shady and undocumented part of the human psyche, and is packed with imagination as well as atmosphere... personally I suspect this is a bit of a classic.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive chemical fiction must-read 9 Mar 2002
By Jay Oh
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Y'know the old adage that writing about music is as pointless as dancing about architecture? It's a lie, and 'Needle in the Groove' is a near-perfect countermeasure to the cliché. There are moments in this book which capture the vitality of music accurately and beautifully, explaining why so many people love it with a surprising universality of insight. If you've ever played bass until your fingers bleed or just devoted hours of your life trying to find a particular record you think you heard in a club, 'Needle in the Groove' is necessary reading. In a sense it's like the music it describes; Noon's fluid 150 beats-per-minute style drives the story relentlessly onward, pulling the reader into the book in the same way that you can't not dance to certain records.
Perhaps the themes of the characters' relationships aren't new, but there's never any sense of familiarity to Noon's writing. If he has to be categorised it should be part of the underground of young dynamic writers emerging in the territory between Irvine Welsh and Neal Stephenson, collected together in 'Disco Biscuits' and 'Disco 2000' [ed. Sarah Champion].
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Noon has written better 2 Feb 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Vurt and Pollen and two of my most favourite books of all time so I had high expectation with the first of a pile of Noon books I had missed. Although it was a nice little read it lacked the imagination and daring of Vurt/Pollen and seemed to be trying too hard to be cool-by-numbers (drugs, Madchester, remixes etc) when I'm sure it was uneccessary. Also its nursery typeface means that these 285 pages are not far off a short story - I read it on the train to work over two days and I'm not a particularly fast reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Liquid Fiction 11 Jun 2003
Noon has written a fine and adventurous book. A book about father's and sons, reality and illusion and (of course) sex and drugs and rock and roll. Noon's english slant on beat prose describes the music - or what is essential about the music in the ears of bassplayer Elliot- perfectly, and he finds an ingenious and effective literary equivalent to the dance remix, itself a metaphor for the search on which the central character is engaged
Noon has rewritten the streetmap of Manchester in honour of its musicians - the good the bad and the Hollies. He reimagines also the crucial last night at the Electric Circus, a real event which provides a backdrop to the various changing plot permutations. Noon has rewritten Borges to sound like Kerouac. This is the kind of fiction which bookshops should be full of, but which is sadly not easy to find in England.
Cyberpunk fans will have read it by now, but it should also appeal to readers of Ballard or Russell Hoban or Robert Nye.
Read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing 4 May 2001
By A Customer
A hypnotic book. Don't compare it to Vurt, accept that authors move on and that's even more exciting. You get lost in this the same way you do in music. The way Noon plays with language is inspiring.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Music captured in words 13 Oct 2000
By A Customer
We've all experienced that moment, when we emerge from the aural sensations of listening to one of those life changing albums, trying to contain our awe. Maybe its Radiohead's "OK Computer",U2's " Joshua Tree", The Beatles "Sgt Pepper" or Oasis' "What's the Story Morning Glory?". We've all then tried to tell the world how good, no, how phenomonal that album was, how powerful music is, and how from that day on, it has burrowed into our lives forever.

Jeff Noon's "Needle in the Groove" has come phenomonely close to capturing that once thought of impossible sensation, into words. Obviously written by a music enthusist, this is a tale of great beauty, wonder, excitement and energy. It bravely tells a tale of human emotions, how vulnerable we all can be, and how in the end, we can all triumph. With the common theme of music uniting the characters in the novel, Noon also uses music to link the reader into his heady tale, and comes up triumphant. Compulsory reading.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars you have to get into the rhythm
I loved this book and a great extension to the Nooniverse. As it is written almost as a dub / mix I found I had to read it in a certain way and by doing that got the best out of... Read more
Published 10 months ago by J. B. Blain
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
A great book that explores drugs and modern music in Jeff Noons typically futuristic and ever changing Manchester. Dark and gritty, with alot of rain. Read more
Published on 26 Sep 2004 by Nathan Pierce
4.0 out of 5 stars All about the music?
Jeff Noon, as the initiated will know, is as much concerned with wordplay as he is a good plot. Fortunately, he manages to achieve both with a good degree of success in Needle In... Read more
Published on 15 Sep 2004 by Matt
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine piece of dub fiction.
This is a good story, well written. Noon uses language like no one else - this book is seriously lacking in punctuation and grammar, yet you always understand what's going on. Read more
Published on 4 Dec 2001 by Stuart Whitby
2.0 out of 5 stars Lightweight Waffle
I haven't read Noon's other books, but I got this because I was looking for something daring and inventive in contemporary fiction. I was quite disappointed. Read more
Published on 27 July 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Imagination to be envied.
How fundamental is music? Is there a race or group of people, anywhere in the world, which does not use music (in the widest possible sense of the word) in some way? Read more
Published on 19 Mar 2001 by Matt White
5.0 out of 5 stars Proving you don't need punctuation to be a fantastic writer.
Anyone who has ever played a musical instrument or ever been caught in the emotion of a concert needs to read this book. Read more
Published on 23 Feb 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars out of the shadow of vurt at last
As any and all of the reviewers on this page will tell you, Vurt is a wonderful book. In my opinion though, Needle In The Groove is better. Much better. Read more
Published on 5 Jan 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars incredible
Noon never ceases to amaze. In this book he takes his genius one step further, blurring the lines that generally separate the worlds of music and literature. Read more
Published on 30 Dec 2000 by Bethany A. Burgess
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