The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton [7/10]

Debut novelist Dawnie Walton has achieved something remarkable with “The Final Revival of Opal & Nev.” She has penned a novel about rock music that both evokes the music, in evocative language, and captures the surrounding swirl of business and culture. In New York in the early seventies, just as flower power morphed into something grand, young Opal, an African American singer of charismatic looks, and Neville, a recently arrived white singer-songwriter from Birmingham, click together in the Big Apple. Black funk pairs with white punk to create a fictional, incendiary group that takes the world by storm for a brief period. Now, five decades later, a renowned American music journalist reaches back to construct an oral history, reviving both the facts of two careers but also possible dire skeletons. Constructed as interlaced interview records spiced up with editorial asides and the journalist’s own story, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev leapfrogs the boredom often associated with fake oral history, and artfully constructs a thrilling tale replete with rock music’s real footprint. Innovative, wonderfully written, and illuminating, it is a ravishing debut.

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