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Music for Love or War

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"Music for Love or War is slash-and-burn funny, but also unexpectedly touching and wise. Few writers can take you in one breath from the hills of Afghanistan to the gates of the Playboy Mansion and make you believe every crazy word. Martyn Burke has that special talent." --Carl Hiaasen, author of the New York Times bestselling novel Bad Monkey According to what we've been t "Music for Love or War is slash-and-burn funny, but also unexpectedly touching and wise. Few writers can take you in one breath from the hills of Afghanistan to the gates of the Playboy Mansion and make you believe every crazy word. Martyn Burke has that special talent." --Carl Hiaasen, author of the New York Times bestselling novel Bad Monkey According to what we've been told, the source of all knowledge is somewhere just south of Sunset Boulevard. The problem is that Danny has lost the address. So begins Martyn Burke's tragi-comic novel of love and war. Danny, a Canadian sharpshooter, and Hank, in the U.S. Army, have been stationed in Kandahar, but they are in Los Angeles, desperate to find the Hollywood psychic who will reveal the whereabouts of the women they love. Danny is searching for Ariana, the girl he fell in love with in Toronto in the last years of the twentieth century; Hank is searching for Annie Boudreau, known in the tabloids as "Annie of the Boo Two"--twins who were briefly in the gravitational pull of Hugh Hefner. From Grenadier Pond in west-end Toronto, to Afghanistan, to the Malibu colony in LA, the novel follows these moments in the lives of Danny and Hank, revealed by a masterful storyteller and commentator on American culture. When in the mountains of Kandahar, Danny and Hank torture the members of al Qaeda and the Taliban with the music and a larger-than-life-size cardboard reproduction of Liberace in satin short shorts, high-kicking as if on Broadway.


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"Music for Love or War is slash-and-burn funny, but also unexpectedly touching and wise. Few writers can take you in one breath from the hills of Afghanistan to the gates of the Playboy Mansion and make you believe every crazy word. Martyn Burke has that special talent." --Carl Hiaasen, author of the New York Times bestselling novel Bad Monkey According to what we've been t "Music for Love or War is slash-and-burn funny, but also unexpectedly touching and wise. Few writers can take you in one breath from the hills of Afghanistan to the gates of the Playboy Mansion and make you believe every crazy word. Martyn Burke has that special talent." --Carl Hiaasen, author of the New York Times bestselling novel Bad Monkey According to what we've been told, the source of all knowledge is somewhere just south of Sunset Boulevard. The problem is that Danny has lost the address. So begins Martyn Burke's tragi-comic novel of love and war. Danny, a Canadian sharpshooter, and Hank, in the U.S. Army, have been stationed in Kandahar, but they are in Los Angeles, desperate to find the Hollywood psychic who will reveal the whereabouts of the women they love. Danny is searching for Ariana, the girl he fell in love with in Toronto in the last years of the twentieth century; Hank is searching for Annie Boudreau, known in the tabloids as "Annie of the Boo Two"--twins who were briefly in the gravitational pull of Hugh Hefner. From Grenadier Pond in west-end Toronto, to Afghanistan, to the Malibu colony in LA, the novel follows these moments in the lives of Danny and Hank, revealed by a masterful storyteller and commentator on American culture. When in the mountains of Kandahar, Danny and Hank torture the members of al Qaeda and the Taliban with the music and a larger-than-life-size cardboard reproduction of Liberace in satin short shorts, high-kicking as if on Broadway.

47 review for Music for Love or War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Laura Morton

    Have long been a fan of Martyn Burke. He writes about serious topics with tragi-comic flair that is sui generis. In this he looks at lost love amidst the insanity of both war and Hollwood which in this book converge into what Carl Hiaasen called, "slash-and-burn funny, but also unexpectedly touching and wise." Rather than go on, I'll just post a review from Bookgasm. Logo Music for Love or War by Martyn Burke Author: Alan Cranis Canadian-born novelist, journalist, screenwriter and director Martyn Bu Have long been a fan of Martyn Burke. He writes about serious topics with tragi-comic flair that is sui generis. In this he looks at lost love amidst the insanity of both war and Hollwood which in this book converge into what Carl Hiaasen called, "slash-and-burn funny, but also unexpectedly touching and wise." Rather than go on, I'll just post a review from Bookgasm. Logo Music for Love or War by Martyn Burke Author: Alan Cranis Canadian-born novelist, journalist, screenwriter and director Martyn Burke combines his experiences covering the war in Afghanistan with his mordant observations of Hollywood and American pop culture – viewed from the vantage point of his part-time Southern California home – in his latest novel, MUSIC FOR LOVE OR WAR. It’s a whirlwind story, equally hilarious and heartbreaking, about the various kinds of love and war — and quite unlike any novel you’re likely to read. As the novel opens, Hank and his best friend Danny are on leave from the Army and the war in Afghanistan. They travel to Los Angeles where they seek out the Hollywood psychic who will tell them where to find the women they love. For Danny it’s Ariana, who Danny has known and loved since growing up in Toronto and who struggles under the weight of her orthodox religious parents. For Hank it’s Annie Boudreau, an L.A. native who, along with her twin sister, has become half of the “Boo Two,” favorites of the sensational tabloids and members of Hugh Hefner’s residential harem. Burke then alternates flashback chapters where we witness the early days of Danny and Hank, how they became friends and how Ariana and Annie became so important to their lives. These are mixed with chapters of the two friends in the present day fighting the war in Afghanistan while wondering if they will ever see the women they love again. The entire story is conveyed through Hank’s first-person narrative. Burke prose style keeps Hank’s cynicism just under a boil but durable enough to express his sardonic views of the ridiculousness of both the war and the life of the Hollywood elite. Along the way we are treated to some unforgettable images and scenes in the two major locations as well as in the chapters relaying Danny and Hank’s early years. Most memorable is when Danny and Frank, hiding in the Afghan mountains, torment members of al Quaeda and the Taliban by blasting a CD of piano music by Liberace, accompanied by a huge cardboard poster of “Mr. Entertainment” high-kicking in satin hot pants. This comic surrealism is every bit as effective as the GIs playing Wagner as their choppers descend upon the Viet Cong in Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, but lingers in your memory far longer. In the midst of these war scenes we learn that while Danny is as dependable as any soldier, there is an ulterior motive to his being in Afghanistan. Then, in the final quarter of the novel, Hank becomes entangled with the split-second madness of Hollywood entertainment news while simply trying to reconnect with Annie Boo. These scenes – almost too outrageous to believe yet based in reality – make dodging bullets in the Afghan mountains seem nearly preferable. Through it all Burke demonstrates how love has the power to endure such obstacles as parental dominance, flimsy Hollywood get-rich-quick schemes, and even the daily threat of death in the midst of war. The specific events make MUSIC FOR LOVE OR WAR very much a novel of its time, but the themes transcend the time and, along with its several moments of tragic-comedy, remain long after the concluding chapter. Highly recommended not only for its entertaining inventiveness and emotional involvement with the main characters but also for its noble efforts to put the madness of our contemporary world into some recognizable perspective. —Alan Cranis Get it at Amazon. RSS feed

  2. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    At the top are those guys who are practically shrink-wrapped in the flag. They get it! And no matter how hard I try to be like them, I never get there. Cast from some alloy of history and patriotism, they know exactly why they’re risking the package. They’re the guys who look you right in the eye as they coat you with a thick layer of geopolitical goo beginning with September 11 and working back to some wormhole in your convictions as they remind you how you’d damn well better atone by charging At the top are those guys who are practically shrink-wrapped in the flag. They get it! And no matter how hard I try to be like them, I never get there. Cast from some alloy of history and patriotism, they know exactly why they’re risking the package. They’re the guys who look you right in the eye as they coat you with a thick layer of geopolitical goo beginning with September 11 and working back to some wormhole in your convictions as they remind you how you’d damn well better atone by charging into the great machine gun of history. These guys never blink. I envy them. I love having them in my platoon. But I sure as hell won’t be hanging out with them telling war stories years from now. In the vast middle are the guys who are over here because they can’t stand mortgage payments, PTA meetings, malls, marriage counseling, plumbing courses, and all the other avatars of two thousand years of testosterone drilled into a single drop of present-day ambivalence. Over here in the war, that one little drop gets re-distilled into a hundred-proof buzz that comes out shooting flames. These guys cling to war because they’ve peered into the abyss and seen themselves punching a time clock for the rest of their lives. And then there’s me and Danny. I now know it was no accident we found each other in this maelstrom. Right from the moment he asked about us being in the same unit with the psychic I knew each of us was there because of a woman. *** I can’t think of another book that goes to war with Liberace as both good luck charm and weapon. This is to author Martyn Burke’s credit: through a psychic, identical twin Playboy Bunnies, a divergence into madcap Hollywood insanity, and the aforementioned man for whom no fashion cow was sacred enough, Music for Love or War manages to effortlessly sidestep predictability in a war-based narrative. The story follows two men: Hank and Danny. Hank is a Californian; Danny is from Toronto. Besides enlisting to fight in post-9/11 Afghanistan, the two men share a unique bond: the women they love have been taken from them. In Hank’s case, it’s Annie Boo—Ann Boudreau—who along with her sister Susan jumped/fell into the fame spiral, becoming two of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy harem. Danny’s story of love and loss, meanwhile, is quite different and far more tragic. Ariana, the woman he fell in love with when they were just teenagers, is the daughter of a man named Sayyid Shah, who we learn (through Ariana’s brother Omar) managed funds for bin Laden in the years preceding the 9/11 attacks. As we experience more of Danny and Ariana’s story, which is interspersed with Hank’s, it becomes clear that not only is their love elicit—were Sayyid to find out there would be no end to the hell Ariana would pay—but it was, from minute one, destined to end badly. And so it does when, years after they first met, became friends, and subsequently lost contact, Omar, having imbibed in his father’s Kool-Aid, sold his sister to an Afghani warlord named Zadran for weapons, ammunition, and fake passports. So what are two lovelorn souls to do when faced with such loneliness? Enlist, naturally. Except their reasons for doing so were very different from one another: while Hank enlisted to escape the twenty-four-hour “paparasshole” news cycle guaranteed to splash images and video Annie and her sister and their very old and very creepy lover across every magazine and website available, Danny enlisted for the noble purpose of finding Ariana and bringing her home again. As such, while Hank is the voice through which we view the narrative as it unfolds in the present, it’s Danny who gives this book its heart. There’s a lot to love in Music for Love or War. Split between time periods and locations—Hollywood, Toronto, and “The Mountains,” referring to the mountain range between Pakistan and Afghanistan—the narrative moves at a brisk clip. The connection between the two men is also well realized, with Hank, either directly or indirectly, assuming the role of Danny’s protector. And while Danny’s unwavering conviction is in stark contrast to Hank, whose personality errs a little more on the practical side of things, one never gets the sense that Hank looks down on or dismisses Danny’s belief in what he’s doing. If anything, it feels sometimes like Hank envy’s what he sees as Danny’s drive and sense of nobility. While I felt deeply invested in Danny’s story, I can’t quite say the same for Hank’s, or for that matter the subplot involving the psychic Constance Amonte, who both men lean on for advice on how to handle their troubled love lives. Initially I was intrigued by the Hollywood side of things and all its accompanying craziness; however, the section of the book that takes place in Hollywood, about two-thirds of the way through (the longest section, incidentally), feels as if it was pulled from a different story altogether, with its ridiculous pace of events and equally ridiculous and over-the-top personalities. I’m not saying the sorts of people and situations depicted don’t exist, because they most certainly do, only that the section seemed to diverge enough from the more compelling narrative—Danny’s quest to save Ariana—to be distracting. It was kind of like the bureaucracy scene in Jupiter Ascending, which felt less like something directed by the Wachowski siblings and more like a scene from a lost Terry Gilliam film. It wasn’t bad; it just didn’t fit. Actually that ludicrous scene was the best part of that film, but I digress. Overall, I quite enjoyed my time with Music for Love or War. Burke’s narrative has a lot of heart to it, and Danny and Ariana’s troubled history felt real—lived in. I almost wish the book had been only their story. That’s not to say Hank’s had no merit, as he is I think a necessary counterpoint for Danny. But when all was said and done, it was Ariana and Danny, and to a lesser extent Omar, who made this story sing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Jensen

    Two soldiers, one Canadian (the sniper) and one American (the spotter) are stationed together in Kandahar. They both have the love of their life that they are searching for. They manage a leave and go to Los Angeles to a psychic to help them locate where their ladies are. An excellent read. I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alex Aguilar

    definitely not my kind of thing, it was given to me as a gift because of its Los Angeles aspect. woof. it had interesting ideas? but the execution tended toward corniness at every turn.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cormorant Books

  7. 4 out of 5

    K.T. Waltzer

    From sharp-shooting at Taliban to a face-to-face reading with a Hollywood seer, one travels vividly and seamlessly through the evils of war to the glittery Hollywood club scene, feeling every bit of the undying love these two soldiers have for their lost loves. Magnificently written in handsome prose, strategically peppered with the absurdist (and not just the Hollywood chapters), it's a book that's hard to put down.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Susan

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alessandra

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jenee Rager

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Rivard

  12. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Mckenzie

  13. 5 out of 5

    Wade

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bob

  15. 5 out of 5

    Korie

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aara

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cormorant Books

  18. 4 out of 5

    Greg

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Mckinnon

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ruel Smith

  21. 5 out of 5

    Terri

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Davis

  23. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne Girard

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mary Allen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jess N. Taylor

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jack Goodstein

    Novel can't decide whether it is tragic and serious or comic over the top in parts.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Davis

  29. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Diano

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brigitte

  31. 5 out of 5

    Usne

  32. 5 out of 5

    Lorna

  33. 4 out of 5

    Janine

  34. 5 out of 5

    Angie Sea

  35. 4 out of 5

    Merissa Gladys

  36. 5 out of 5

    Dolores Jefferson

  37. 4 out of 5

    Kacee

  38. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  39. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Gordon

  40. 4 out of 5

    Kay Card

  41. 5 out of 5

    Adriana

  42. 5 out of 5

    Marcy

  43. 5 out of 5

    Kara Lauren

  44. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  45. 4 out of 5

    Allison

  46. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  47. 5 out of 5

    Megan

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