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The main fault of White Pigeons is not the narrator's pretentious worldview, but rather that, at its core, it is almost entirely incoherent and pointless. There's action, yes, and there's even the occasional segment of drama strewn about the pages of White Pigeons, yet there's no cohesion to pull it all together. Through all the tales of travel and transit, parties and drunk nights, and observations on city life, there exists no cohesive tale of loving, of losing, or of anything for that matter.
Through his tales of travel and decadence the narrator also fronts a band called the Breaks. It is with this theme of music that Leo breaks up the monotony of the novel, and tries something different. Leo is himself better known as a musician than an author, as he has fronted some seminal indie bands such as The Van Pelt and The Lapse. Chapter 7 of White Pigeons is actually an audio CD of music by this fictitious band, The Breaks, with the corresponding lyrics printed in the book. The Breaks are actually Leo and his new band, The Vague Angels, so you can see how things get a bit muddled. The songs on the enclosed album, entitled not Chapter 7 but Truth Loved, are chronicles loosely based on the action of the book. This marriage of audio and printed art sets White Pigeons apart from other books; if not for writing aptitude then it stands out at the least for originality.
Musically, the audio output of White Pigeons is pretty good, and serves as an act of redemption for Leo on the whole project. The music features Leo's sung/spoke high-pitched vocals, a trademark of his past projects. His vocals combine elements of the sleek cool of both Lou Reed and the beat poets, along with the high-pitched yelp of a jittery teenager. Lyrically, Truth Loved is consistent with the enigmatic hipness the narrator of White Pigeons aims to cultivate. There are tales of bike rides and Latin lesbians laid out over a bed of jittery indie rock that divides its time between being melodic and nearly accessible, and cold, distant and dissonant. The five song series of "let the formula forge itself fantastic" - which is comprised of "A Man Needs a Mirror," "Fightin for the last pick," the awesome and nearly instrumental "…and I knew No One," and the closer "Hurry Hurry Before it happens Again" - is some of Leo's best work, bar none, and should call attention to promise of the Vague Angels if not Leo's literary abilities.
While packaging this audio CD and book together is an interesting concept, it only serves to highlight the shortcomings of the printed work. While the music is promising, the writing is not. We see two sides of an artist here; the good and the indulgent. While the music can at times be transcendent, the same can not, unfortunately, be said of the book. The problem is not Leo's hot shit, quasi-philosophical, mostly-pretentious main character - any type of character can be compelling enough to carry a story - it's the lingering question of What's the point? If you do decide to tackle White Pigeons, pay no mind to searching for coherence in the diatribes. Through all the main character's travels, from party to bar, Newark to Queens, Atlantic City to Manhattan to Peru, you'll be searching for a plot, there is left little room for the reader themselves to be transported anywhere. SEE ALSO: www.fifthplanetpress.com
SEE ALSO: www.vagueangels.com
A staff writer based in Brooklyn, New York, Dan Williams is a frequent contributor to LAS magazine. He once lived in Köln, Germany for a semester, is currently persuing his MBA in New York, and recently switched sides and began working as a publicist for Special Ops Media in New York.
See other articles by Dan Williams.
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