Book Review: West of Babylon by Ted Heller

WestOfBabylon_TedHeller Danny, Jules, Joey, and Howie make up the fictional band The Furious Overfalls in Ted Heller’s latest novel West of Babylon—but Long Island is the main character. LI is a place people feel strongly about and the group’s members are no exception. Their first order of business in becoming a rock band the likes of which no one has seen since the Rolling Stones has but one goal: never to end up back on the Island. And in their most successful years, when they are rocking out to stadium-filled crowds, when their groupies have all of their teeth and no visible moles on their faces, each member has a place in the City. But as the country-infused rock of the Seventies is drowned by disco and whatever it was that made up the Eighties, The Furious Overfalls become their worst fear: has-beens. Heller crafts a world in which he imagines a coulda-been Keith Richards who just missed the boat of super-stardom, waking up in his 50s, to a wife, kids, and a house in the godforsaken suburbs of Lawn Guyland. He paints this aging rock band in all of their advanced glory: with creaky hips, Viagra prescriptions and cardiologists. The reader accompanies them on a journey that rivals a trek on the LIRR—from Montauk to Mineola, hitting every bump on the road.