Through his adolescence, DeGennaro dazzled with his performances at casual gatherings and in bands, then won a devoted fandom after joining the band Kingfish in 1979. Farmer twines elements of memoir throughout this portrait, touchingly recounting first meeting DeGennaro as Farmer grieved his wife’s sudden death in 1993. First, he heard DeGennaro’s guitar, coming from a waterfront bar in New Hope, “a sound that is as sad as the world, as sad as everything you’ve lost, because it is also as beautiful.”
DeGennaro “inspired loyalty” among many, Farmer writes, and he offers deep dives into those relationships. The story of Farmer and DeGennaro come together again in a happier time in the author’s life nearly twenty years later, when he finds the guitarist having suffered both in health and career. Readers will cheer on DeGennaro in his battle for his sobriety to the bitter end, which comes too soon, with his murder in 2011. This elegiac, formally inventive work examines shifts in culture over a generation, plus changing views of war, the invasion of drugs, and always, no matter the circumstances, the life-affirming power of music.
Takeaway: This innovative biography and memoir celebrates a singular guitarist and his passing era.
Great for fans of: Jim Abbott’s Jackson C. Frank: The Clear, Hard Light of Genius, Steven Blush’s Lost Rockers.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A