W. Brand Publishing

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By Ben Mason

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Though a little scattershot at times, Ben Mason's SEX, TRUCKS, AND ROCK ‘N ROLL offers much to divert the casual reader.
In his memoir, Ben Mason recounts life in a rock band, a moving business, and his explorations of spirituality.

Nowadays, the excesses of rock music seem antiquated, even a little peculiar: rebellions against a buttoned-up, relentlessly suburbanizing society. Ben Mason’s memoir SEX, TRUCKS, AND ROCK ‘N ROLL begins—but does not end—by documenting his own journey through this cultural landscape. The son of a naval officer, Mason takes his readers on a whistle-stop tour of his childhood: falling in love with the drums, competing in a battle of the bands contest with his first group, and witnessing the band’s bass player getting hooked on codeine. It presaged things to come. By the end of the 1970s, Mason was gigging hard with glitter rock band Primadonna, with plenty of the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll promised by the title. This was anathema to “Shana,” a girlfriend whom Mason cared deeply for, and who promptly left him after he confessed to a threesome with two female fans after a gig. “We got paid to wallow in our excesses,” Mason admits.

But Primadonna split in 1980, and most of the rest of the book is about what came after. Mason started a successful moving business, the “trucks” of the title, but these anecdotes do vary in interest. He also continued to write songs, got into Buddhism, almost died after a bout of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, gigged on an occasional basis on the east coast, and met the woman who would become a long-term partner: Bobbi Jo. The style is lively and engaging, if a little too florid and pretentious at times—as a 1976 Corvette is described unironically as “that obsidian phallus […] a yacht on the highway.” Occasional vignettes of family members offer glimpses of Mason’s background. The approach is a little scattershot, but when the material delivers, it’s engaging and sometimes profound.

Mason describes all of this as creative nonfiction, stating that “it would […] be foolish for one to assume that memories are always 100% factual.” For a memoir, this is a slightly peculiar hedge. One understands a disclaimer over the accuracy of recollections is a necessary evil; certain memories are simply too foggy to cohere. But to put into question the memoir’s factuality seems to detract from the truthfulness that is key to the genre, and also seems to allow for confabulations. Did Mason crash his truck into the rental house where his ex-girlfriend was having sex with her new man in a fit of pique? Was there even a new man? Moreover, discussion of Mason’s “spiritual journey,” which is promised in the book’s subtitle, is strangely diffuse. Spiritual matters are never far away, but they are mostly referred to in passing and are rarely the subject of sustained musings.

Though a little scattershot at times, Ben Mason’s SEX, TRUCKS, AND ROCK ‘N ROLL offers much to divert the casual reader.

~Craig Jones for IndieReader

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