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Buddy Holly Turning Over In Grave Reading Awful Book About Him By Local Author

I wasn't going to go out of my way to be mean to Bourbonnais author Gary W. Moore about his new book, Hey Buddy: In Pursuit of Buddy Holly, My New Buddy John, and My Lost Decade of Music, but if Dave Hoekstra is going to give him a rave review in the Sun-Times, I better set the record straight.

This is just about the worst book I've ever read.

But hey, don't take it from me. Take it from his agent, his publisher, his wife and his friend, each of whom tried to warn him.

"Gary, you realize you are changing your time perspective back and forth from chapter to chapter, right? Moore recounts in his author's note agent Tris Coburn asking him.

"Yes Tris, I do." I replied. Silence. "Tris?"

"Yes?

"What's a tense?" I laughed. Silence.

Stop. You're killing me.

And then:

"What exactly are you doing," asked my publisher Ted Savas. The worry about his investment in me and my book was apparent in his voice.

"I'm writing from my heart. Sometimes in real time, sometimes not."

"Oh my God, Gary," he groaned.

And so on.

But it's not just the tense-shifting that is a problem. It's that the story of the author's discovery of Buddy Holly - he's apparently been away on another planet for 50 years - and his subsequent journey to the site of his infamous plane crash is as amazingly boring as might be expected from a guy who had to be schooled by his pals (no kidding) about the Rolling Stones and The Who.

The big tipoff should've been how Moore came to become obsessed with Holly: He saw a Holly impersonator while accompanying his 77-year-old mother-in-law to the annual Winter Dance Party revival in Iowa. Moore became mesmerized - with the impersonator.

An absolutely horrible book idea was born; the ground has been thoroughly trodden.

Of course, Moore takes great pains to repeatedly remind us this is not a biography of Holly - or even about the plane crash. And it's not. It's about Moore's attempt to understand the impact of Buddy Holly's music, an impact he contends is underappreciated by those who already know who the Rolling Stones are.

It might be tolerable - though I doubt it - if it wasn't so poorly written (and dotted with amateur author photos).

So I'm not sure what book Hoekstra was reading when he wrote on Sunday that this is "a thoroughly fun read" and that the book is "crazy good."

It's crazy alright, but not in the good sense.

Here is Hoekstra's example of just how crazy good and thoroughly fun Moore's writing is:

"As they say in Sesser, Illinois, we are attracted to tragic events 'like June bugs to a porch light.' And yet, the very nature that attracts us to tragedy often encourages us to discount logic and fact and refuse to accept that it happened . . . as it did."

Trust me, that's as good as it gets. Which isn't very.

Worse, Hey Buddy is being disingenuously promoted. Yet, Hoekstra falls for it.

"The best part of the 215-page book is where Moore reports conspiracy theories about the gun Holly carried on the plane," Hoekstra writes. "Jerry Dwyer, owner-operator of the charter service where Holly and his entourage boarded the plane, is now 92 [sic; he's 80] and owns pieces of the wreckage. He did not talk to Moore."

Indeed, the inside cover of the book jacket bolds a quote from Dwyer's wife that "the truth has never been told about what happened on that flight."

And the pitch from the PR person who sent me the book included this: "[T]here is new information in the book about the plane crash whose links are below. Who has the airplane that Buddy was killed in? Did Buddy have a gun on board the plane? Were there bullet holes in the seats on the plane? Why wasn't the plane examined more carefully? The book details these questions about Buddy's death and it shows that Buddy Holly still lives in the hearts and souls of people everywhere."

I'll "spoil" it for you right now: Moore merely concludes the same thing that every other credible person has over the years and finds that the story of the plane crash is . . . just as we've been told. The plane went down in bad weather. No conspiracy, no foul play, nothing.

I sent this e-mail to the PR person after finishing the book:

"I have to say I was disappointed with this book. Frankly, not very good. And you and the inside jacket tease the whole plane crash thing but end up with absolutely nothing new but a confirmation of what we already thought. Fortunately for you, there weren't enough Chicago connections to make this worthy of inclusion on my site, meaning you avoid a pan. But thanks for sending it . . . "

Her reply:

"I have to really agree with you about the plane crash thing. The author and publisher wanted to play that up and we were hesitant. But I do think that the book was unique in its approach. Thank you for taking your time to read it."

I'm not so sure the approach was unique, but it certainly wasn't well-executed. Don't waste your time - and beware Hoekstra's future reviews.

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Comments welcome.

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1. From Dmitry Samarov:

If nothing else, it may set the world record for times that "Buddy" has been used in a book title. Kudos!




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Posted on January 31, 2011


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