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Beautiful and charismatic nineteen year old Checker Secretti is the most gifted and original drummer that the club goers of Astoria ueens have ever heard When he plays conundrums seem to solve themselves brilliant thoughts spring to mind and couples fall in love The members of his band The Derailleurs are passionately devoted to their guiding spirit as are all who fall under Checker's spell But when another drummer Eaton Striker hears the prodigy play he is pulled inexorably into Checker's orbit by a powerful combination of envy and admiration Soon The Derailleurs too are torn apart by latent jealousies that Eaton does his utmost to bring alive

10 thoughts on “Checker and the Derailleurs

  1. says:

    For a long time Checker and the Derailleurs had mostly a cult following Published in 1989 it went out of print until reissued in 2009 Now that Lionel Shriver's books are going to gain new audiences due to the buzz around the film version of We Need to Talk About Kevin someone will probably try to make a movie of Checker as well I hope not While it seems eminently filmable and the richly colored and textured images Shriver paints could be magic in the hands of a visual director like Terrence Malick or Tom Ford it would be a shame to ruin a character like Checker Secretti Checker who reminded me of a latter day Phineas from John Knowles's 1953 A Separate Peace is like a personal gift from the author because we need so much to bring him to life inside our own heads I very much want to hang with Checker but the Checker of my imagination not of some casting agent'sSome folks read this book over and over and I can see why It's the only way we can keep knowing Checker and his friends over a lifetime

  2. says:

    Checker The Derailleurs Where to begin on this magnificent hidden gem from Lionel Shriver? To begin with this coming of age story is about so much than that; far than any brief synopsis I have read posits Then again I would have a difficult time writing a synopsis that is up to par with the themes ideas philosophies general insights into the various characters' emotions being difficult to put into words Even difficult is to express how this bands' story the story of each member's life plus that of Eaton Striker an envious admirer with a penchant for evil and Syria Pyramus a glass blower The Fire ueen whom forms a love triangle with Checker Rahim has such an illuminating relevance to my life your life growing up parenting friendship marriage love personality differences negativity peer pressure loneliness ambition fear pleasures music careers outlooks on daily life life decisions sociology psychology Shriver has long been one of the most psychologically astute authors around and Checker The Derailleurs is among her best in elouently revealing the wonders of our psyches next to Big Double Fault and We Need To Talk About KevinThis has been referred to as a retelling of the story of Christ This is less obvious than one might imagine Even Shriver herself mentioned in an interview not realizing she was doing that until after the fact but was not surprised since she was raised uite religiously; although not religious herself any it seems Although I was made aware of the comparison before reading it was not until a few days later innocently re examining different aspects of the novel as I do uite unconsciously after every good read that it all seemed so obvious and the parallels so bold that I was puzzled how I had not seen them sooner Checker has his disciples followers as they are called in the text whom respect him idolizing him with a varying range in logic The great Checker Secretti is an icon a symbol of optimism rightness even all that is good Hardly anyone knows his roots as Irving Secretti In their devotion to him many of his disciples has given up much some without even realizing this Like the original disciples some inevitably discover themselves strayed from good on the path of evil Here the fallen angel is Eaton Striker whom loves respects envies desires this man this apparition that is Checker that the only thing he feels he can do is bring him down And eventually it works The other band members are lured by him into animosity They begin to see everything they once loved in Checker through a negative filter Rachel having always been in love with the drummer is pushed into facing the fact that it is unreuited uiet Carl having a special place in his heart for Rachel and seeing how Checker has hurt her also reevaluates his affinity Howard his best friend and the band manager begins to see him as overly maudlin his niceness excessive Checker has arranged a marriage between Syria Rahim in order to save the latter from deportation At first hating the arrangement Syria agreed to the marriage only with the understanding that he would serve as a live in housewife Rahim eventually falls in love with his new wife Unfortunately so does Checker Under Eaton Striker's ever so persistent guidance the entire band witnesses Checker Syria making love What then follows is the complete fall of the band including their love for Checker Again under the guidance of Striker they ruin his favorite red bicycle his drum set and almost literally his soul as he exposes to Checker all of his weaknesses and every negative though any of his disciples his friends have had in the recent months Although they may not have felt strongly enough to voice their concerns to Checker himself when Eaton Striker the voice of evil does they cannot will not say anything in Checker's defense He flees the scene attempting suicide shortly thereafter It is soon revealed that although possibly the most warranted logically occurrence this is not the first time Checker is a bipolar manic depressiveHere is another aspect of the novel I really appreciated The foreshadowing for Checker's bipolar was there In hindsight in fact it seems obvious But it was melded in so artfully through the storytelling with almost an aura of mystery that readers could have missed it altogether This is difficult than it seems; far freuently an author's foreshadowing is blatantly obvious andor not telling of anything at allAnd so there we have the most iconic of Christ's story the resurrection Checker survives his suicide attempt; one can imagine him rising from the depths of the ocean Likewise his band members his friends his disciples come to love him again Checker had long sacrificed much of himself in pleasing his adoring followers and continues now although at a realistic level Looking out for himself as well he marries Syria thankfully with Rahim's blessing and accepts an offer from CBS for his musical talent Under his new personal manager Howard record deals are in orderAll of this takes place in Astoria ueens Although I have never been there myself the magnificent portrait Shriver paints of it is loving and vivid So much that Astoria becomes a characterOf course this novel is also about music How music can alleviate sorrows better the lives of all whom will accept its magic It delves into band life the personality clashes what goes into maintaining one under all the pressure the rejection from the ambivalent arbitrary music companies Checker even has a philosophy that a true music lover whom plays for the love of it should never send samples out as either way the result screws you over; if rejected you are forever second guessing yourself and your talent; if accepted the praise you receive becomes all you care about; It is dangerous this tape business You make it their business It is not yours any You let them say what you are and you are lost You have sold your soul Oh how true this is How many of my favorite artists were only so on their EPs? A few years later they have sold out their music having changed to cater to the massesShriver also wrote the lyrics to the songs included in the text with t he index of song titles included at the end The illustrations at the header of each chapter title were also her doing Not a first class artist but she has the form and can sketch far better than mostClearly Shriver had a lot of fun with the novel which is fitting This is a coming of age tale; despite its exploration of a few very adult themes it is still fun loving whimsical and has the overarching feel good tone from beginning to end If I had to give it one arching message very difficult to choose only one it would be to treasure the little things in life; make the best in life with the hand you have been dealt

  3. says:

    As much as I loved Checker's curious mystiue and unyielding fascination for the world in which he lives I had a hard time caring about his storyThe uippy dialogue was definitely cute as each character was defined primarily through their interactions with others However so many main characters made it feel like each was fighting for his or her place in the book's limelight Perhaps this is just might take on it or then again perhaps Ms Shriver did and excellent job of portraying 'band life' in textA saddening little story where good fights evil and I'm not uite sure who wins but at least evil doesn't get it outright

  4. says:

    As Shriver herself exclaims a Shriver with a happy endingIt had its great moments but I skimmed the ramble and could only recommend to diehard Shrivers like myself D

  5. says:

    Didn't like the writing style which kind of made me sad because usually I just love any of Lionel Shriver's work Oh well I guess they all can't be winners

  6. says:

    Although I didn't like this as well as her WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN this book was a worthwhile read It explores issues like coming of age art vs commercialism what defines success and how human connection shapes and forms our lives It's also a wonderful portrait of Astoria ueens which is almost another character in the book Some might say it's also a re imagining of the Christ story and they would have plenty of evidence to back up that claim it's all here disciples sacrifice resurrectionIn the end though this is a touching story about growing up seen through the lives of some very complex and fascinating characters The only reason I deduced a star for this effort is that sometimes Shriver was a little too keen on shouting look at how brilliantly I can write; look at how elegantly I can turn a phrase She hadn't yet learned the virtue and value of simplicity when she wrote this one If she had this would be a five star book Still highly recommended

  7. says:

    I love this book The characters are complex compelling and multifaceted; Shriver's portrayal of their relationships are so vivid and true that you feel like you are standing in their midst; and she manages all this while still finding room for humor It's about ambition and happiness and friendship and jealousy and so much I find myself dumbfounded that I have never heard of it though I've heard of all of her other books

  8. says:

    I first read this book 16 years ago and it blew my mind I still read it every year or so because it's still as good every time The descriptions are lush without being mawkish and the characters are very well drawn And if you want some subtle 80s culture and music references you'll love it

  9. says:

    This book was sitting on my bookshelf for the longest time I finally picked it up as a campaign to rid myself of unread books Most of these I usually end up giving away if I haven't cared enough to read it right away But this one is an all time keeper I loved the first part of the story when everyone was getting along When the misunderstandings started I still enjoyed the book Can't have story without conflict I know But the betrayals perpetrated by one of the characters hit me hard I wanted to cry several times when I read this book I also wanted to have a friend like Checker in my life I may have fallen love with his sense of wonder with his character period Haha I liked it better then the Post Birthday World I liked it better than We need to talk about Kevin It's my favorite of hers so far and I can understand why this book attained a cult status Grateful that it was reissued as I was too young in 1988 to appreciate it

  10. says:

    Late to the PartyCatching up on favorite author's novels came across this gem Shriver captures the past and future lives of young hopeful ambitious or not musicians with much clarity Witnessing firsthand the past lives lived over in story and disillusionment I can attest to so many of her written words I can also assert to the truth related here as relates to those people who will continuously prop up the unambitious and allow them to feel special even as their lives dissolve about them Shriver captures the energy that props up the young and the foolishness which betrays itselfI've often wondered what so attracts me to her writing Reading her self described penchant for proper wording I know it is she writes with the same correctness of verbiage which led to my own obsession from a very young age with William F Buckley Jr