THE BOOK NOOK: Crossing ‘The Bridge’ between record albums and books

“The Bridge” by Stuart Prebble (Mulholland Books, 282 pages, $26).

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“The Bridge” by Stuart Prebble (Mulholland Books, 282 pages, $26).

“The Bridge” by Stuart Prebble (Mulholland Books, 282 pages, $26).

A group of fellows at my high school used to have a joyous weekly ritual. We scanned our music magazines with intense devotion. We knew which new records were due to be out. Then we would head out to the record shops to pick up the latest works of genius by groups we adored — bands like Led Zeppelin, Genesis, The Who, The Grateful Dead and The Rolling Stones.

In my 20s, I perpetuated this weekly habit by myself. I had an agreement with a record store: I asked them to order every new album released on a particular label and I was confident I would love every one. I was rarely disappointed.

A few years later I was managing a record store by day and spinning records on the radio at night. I immersed myself in the music industry. Whenever an amazing new record came out I was delighted to share that music with my customers and radio listeners.

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When music started being issued on compact discs, I never gave up on my vinyl records. I believed CDs were a passing fancy — I knew my beloved vinyl would be back. In my view, the experience of opening up a new record, placing it on the turntable, and savoring that first listening session is sublime.

By 1994, I was living in Ohio and working for public radio station WYSO-FM in Yellow Springs. I spent a decade as their music director. I interviewed authors during the final hour of “Afternoon Excursions,” the music program I hosted on weekdays.

During those innocent days before the explosion of the Internet, I observed similarities between the music industry and the book-publishing industry. Authors and recording artists had contractual obligations to fulfill. Music and books were released on set schedules. If a writer or a musician was running behind schedule, I usually heard about it.

Back then, some musicians and writers were self-releasing material — but without the Internet and/or associations with record labels and publishing imprints, their efforts were mostly doomed to be unknown, unheard or unread. Meanwhile the big publishers release new titles like clockwork. Did you know that most books being published by major publishers come out on Tuesdays? This is true.

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Now every Tuesday I get almost as excited about new book releases as I used to get when I was picking through those record bins with youthful exuberance. Every release date means I can review more books and interview more writers.

I have heard from some readers of this column who have expressed their appreciation for my occasional listings of new books set to come out soon. One book I recently mentioned came out this week. It is "The Bridge" by Stuart Prebble.

This book is impossible to review. The plotting is so clever that I cannot say much about the story. As it opens people are enjoying a sunny afternoon along Waterloo Bridge in London. Suddenly a man runs through the crowd and begins grabbing small children and tossing them off the bridge and into the river. This novel reminds me of some of those records from my youth. It is mind-blowing.


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Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit Contact him at vick@vickmickunas.

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