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Fender Benders: A Novel [Hardcover]

Bill Fitzhugh
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 25 2001
In his first three novels, Bill Fitzhugh created new strains of homicidal insects, sliced open the illegal transplant business, and sinfully skewered the Church and Madison Avenue with the same spear. Now he turns his attention to the hitmaking machinery of Music City, U.S.A.

Depending on your point of view, Fender Benders is either a skewed look at the country music industry or a clear-eyed view of a damn screwy business. It's a Grand Old Opera complete with murder, treachery, greed, drugs, twangy music, a love triangle, and the best fried swimps you'll ever put in your mouth.

First off, some folks down South have taken to dropping like flies. One minute they have a headache, the next they have a date at the funeral home. Seems some lunatic is tampering with boxes of headache powder, lacing them with sodium fluoroacetate. It's a nasty death, but at least it's quick, and it makes you forget you had a headache.

Second off, Eddie Long wants to move to Nashville and become a country music star, but right now he's stuck in Hinchcliff, Mississippi. Eddie's big break comes with a contract to tour the Mississippi casino circuit. While he's on the road, his wife dies, the victim of an apparent serial killer. The emotional turmoil of his wife's death causes Eddie to write the best song of his life. He takes it to Nashville, hooks up with a hoary management company, and launches his career.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Rogers is a freelance writer covering the Mississippi music scene. He loves writing and a girl named Megan. Jimmy decides early on that he is going to write Eddie's biography. But as he's researching Eddie's wife's murder, Jimmy comes to a surprising conclusion. He can't prove it, but publishing it might make his own career.

Megan is a smart, talented, and popular radio personality in a tiny market. But she wants a faster way to Easy Street. So she turns to Eddie. In Nashville.

Before it's all over, everybody's planning to make a killing one way or another -- including the kind that has nothing to do with money. But, as frequently happens on Music Row, things don't always turn out as planned.

Rip-roaring with the author's trademark blend of withering insight, divine absurdity, and an outrageous cast of players, Fender Benders is a hilarious, action-packed, no-punches-pulled look at the music makers and fakers who would do literally anything for a hit record. Here is the irrepressible Bill Fitzhugh at his wildest and funniest. Betcha dolla!


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Fitzhugh (Cross Dressing; Pest Control) moves into Clyde Edgerton and Barry Hannah territory and acquits himself with aplomb in this witty romp through the country music industry. Aspiring country music star Eddie Long has served a hard apprenticeship in honky-tonks across the South, and just as he gets a promising gig in a Mississippi casino, his young wife dies under mysterious circumstances. The cause is actually food poisoning, but before the police get there her lover tries to make it look like a suicide, while her father tries to pass it off as murder. In his grief, Eddie writes a magnificent country song, "It Wasn't Supposed to End That Way," that tops the charts and makes him a superstar. He involuntarily becomes embroiled in the seamy side of the music business, associating with rapacious agents, producers, DJs and a carnivorous groupie, Megan, who avariciously eyes Eddie's millions while plying him with drugs. A would-be biographer named Jimmy Rogers, who is also the jealous, discarded boyfriend of the greedy groupie, takes the advice of an unscrupulous literary agent and writes an unauthorized biography, which hints that Eddie had something to do with his wife's death and might even be a serial killer. The action and punch lines come at a furious pace, and Fitzhugh tosses in references to Nashville and Bob Roberts, two of the best country music movies. All in all, this is sharp, sassy, read-in-one-sitting, laugh-out-loud literature. (Dec. 1)Forecast: Movie rights for Pest Control and Cross Dressing have been sold to Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures respectively. If a movie ever results, Fitzhugh's stock will instantly rise, but even if it doesn't, he should collect a few more readers with each hilarious outing.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Bill Fitzhugh is The Only Mystery Writer I Ever Really Loved - and Fender Benders is yet another reason why!" (Jill Conner Browne, author of God Save the Potato Queens)

"[Fitzhugh] . meets the "Is it funny?" challenge head-on. (Metro Pulse, Knoxville's Weekly Voice)

"[FENDER BENDERS] . makes you remember what comedic mysteries are supposed to be all about." (Eric Garcia, author of Anonymous Rex)

"Finger-pickin' good!" (People)

"A satisfying murder mystery and spoof of life in the industry, FENDER BENDERS has a delightfully vicious spirit." (USA Today)

"A lighthearted spin on a desperate tale--just like the best country songs." (Entertainment Weekly (A-))

"You'll laugh so much your sides may hurt." (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

Fitzhugh is a strange and deadly amalgam of screenwriter and comic novelist...in league with Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard. (The New York Times Book Review)

"In FENDER BENDERS Fitzhugh pens a tale worthy of the Grand Ole Opry." (Pittsburgh Tribune)

Fitzhugh applies his school-of-Carl-Hiaasen technique to the capital of country music. (Kirkus Reviews)

"Sharp, sassy, read-in-one-sitting, laugh-out-loud literature." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Fender Benders March 28 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm going to assign this one four stars, even though I feel it could have been funnier, and even though the mystery content is not stellar. What this book does provide is a memorable look at Nashville's Music Row, the country-scene stealers, wheelers, and dealers.
Eddie Long is a young, talented songwriter and musician who turns the suicide, or murder, of his wife, Tammy, into a hit song (Tammy's death is rather difficult for the police to classify, since not one, but two separate buttinskys find her body and adjust the evidence to suit there personal needs; this means she was either: shot by her husband, poisoned by her husband, shot and poisoned by her husband, shot by her lover, poisoned by her lover, or shot and poisoned by her lover, or shot by a burglar, or poisoned by a burglar, or shot and poisoned by a burglar, or poisoned by a serial killer and then shot by either her husband or her lover, or else she poisoned herself, or shot herself, or poisoned herself and then was shot by her husband or her lover, or shot herself and then was poisoned by her husband or her lover, or was poisoned by either the serial killer, her husband, or her lover, and then shot herself or was shot by either her husband or her lover, or was shot by her husband, or her lover, and then poisoned herself, or was poisoned by the serial killer, or her husband, or her lover. Whew. Did I mention her father's involvement...?).
Another key character is Big Bill Herron, who becomes Eddie Long's producer. Herron, sneaky and greedy, becomes the center of all things as the book progresses; most of the characters seem to revolve around him, in a sort of swirling mass of animosity, bitterness, and general dislike--all reactions we come to expect people to have towards Herron, the more we come to know him.
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Format:Hardcover
In Fender Benders, Eddie Long, a struggling young country artist creates a marketing campaign for his new single by creating alot of buzz over the Internet before the full single is released and before the country even knows who Long is. However, the buzz was artifically manufactured in that it was started by people Long had paid to rave on the Net about his new song. I bought this book for much the same reason that many people presumably Long's record--I was [pulled] in by the buzz (i.e. some of the Amazon reviews and others). However, whereas those who bought Long's record seemed to be well satisfied with it, I can't say the same for my own reaction. I found interesting the parts where Mr. Fitzhugh--who clearly seems to know his territory--almost steps outside the book and explains to the reader how the country music business works in terms of sales, promotion, publishing, etc. Those portions where he takes us inside the recording studio and recreates how a song is recorded were excellent as well. However, beyond that--i.e. as a novel--I had some big problems with the book. Not terrible, but certainly not great.
First, except for the "po black fellas" and other secondary characters (such as Otis, Estella and Chester), virtually every main character is (or becomes) completely unappealing. We have Big Bill and Franklin who are weasely and dishonest, we have the conniving and despicable Megan, we have Jimmy and Jay who will do anything for a buck even if it may ruin others' lives, we have the gentle but hopelessly naive Whitney and finally Eddie himself. Though Eddie is the best of the bunch (which is damning with faint praise), he still lets stardom go to his head and becomes unappealing once in Megan's clutches. It seems that Mr. Fitzhugh dislikes everyone in Nashville.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A charming and well earned 3 - 1/2 stars Jan. 10 2002
Format:Hardcover
Bill Fitzhugh's "Fender Benders" is a slight departure from his previous novels. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you!) It is a delightful read with some great characters and criss-crossing storylines. It's just a little dry in areas, whereas I was expecting something more along the lines of his earlier works. "Fender Benders" is missing a lot of the 'ha-ha' factor. But that's a minor nitpick.
While this novel is clearly the tale of new country music sensation Eddie Long's rise to glory... it's also a novel packed with a fantastic supporting cast and several interesting sub-stories. I personally liked the character of Jimmy, who is Eddie's friend at the beginning and volunteers to write his biography. If there are decent lines to be had in this novel... Jimmy gets most of them.
The character of Meagan (Jimmy's ex girlfriend, gasp!!) becomes Eddie's "Yoko Ono" or "Courtney Love" and is continually giving Eddie's management team conniption fits. Her vision is to insert herself as far into Eddie's life/career as possible and get all that she can. It makes for some interesting tension.
Bill Fitzhugh certainly did a great job researching this novel. There is a distinct "feel" to the novel when all the characters are in the studio trying to bring together all the elements for Eddie's first record. It just works.
Music, murder, money, cover-ups, backhanded dealings, investigations, sex and some of the best fried shrimp in Nashville. All these things await you as you read "Fender Benders."
I liked it a lot, but not as much as his other novels. That having been said, it certainly won't stop me from picking up Bill Fitzhugh's next novel. I recommend this one with no reservations. A good read all in all.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Fitzhughs best, but solid
As always, Fitzhugh writes with entertaining characters, a humorous plotline, and you certainly leave the book understanding a lot more about the subject - marketing country music. Read more
Published on May 18 2003 by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Guilty Pleasure
Hey, it ain't Dickens; but it's a ... good read. If you're at all interested in the music business you'll really enjoy it. Read more
Published on May 1 2003 by RainDog
4.0 out of 5 stars He got it right!
Finally, a book about Nashville and the music business that is right on target. I have lived in and around Nashville all my life, and Mr. Fitzhugh nailed it! Read more
Published on April 17 2003 by Aaron Lindsey
5.0 out of 5 stars Fender Benders is a Fender Bender
Fitzhugh does it again with a great story line and totally awesome quirky characters. It makes you think of Shakespeare's quote, " First, we should shot all the lawyers. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2003 by William Callaway
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun read, mystery and all
Fitzhugh has expanded his talent, this may be his best. I love them all, this one has much more mystery, it goes fast. Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2003 by Larry A. Hollar
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Romp Through Nashville!
"Fender Benders" is a murder mystery surrounding the rise of country western guitarist singer/songwriter Eddie Long. Read more
Published on Oct. 10 2002 by deepbluereview
1.0 out of 5 stars Fender Benders
I threw the book away after I finished. Until this afternood I was a fan of mr. Fitzhugh's and have read all of his books. Read more
Published on Aug. 1 2002 by James Jeremias
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun Combination of Humor and Mystery
Great book, well written. It was a fun combination of humor and mystery.
Published on Jan. 15 2002 by Jack Ablin
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fast, Fun Run through Nashville
Bill Fitzhugh is a natural storyteller. He uses his clever twist of a phrase with detailed research to put you in the recording studio, in a meeting with Music Industry con men,... Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2002 by Gary Rubenstein
4.0 out of 5 stars Bent Fender
See storyline above.
When Bill Fitzhugh writes a book, you never know what you’re going to get. Read more
Published on Dec 18 2001 by Konrad Kern
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