Novel-writing: a solitary pursuit, where countless lonely hours fuel literary inspiration. Then there’s mega-blockbuster scribe James Patterson, who pumps out fiction year-round with a carousel of collaborators (Dolly Parton now included) and shifts absolutely mad units. I mean no disrespect when I suggest that someone could enjoy a full cultural life without ever encountering one, yet if they also claimed to have never heard a Dolly Parton song, I’d assume they’d just stepped off a UFO.
Parton and Patterson, septuagenarian crowdpleasers and both genuinely laudable financers of improvements to American youth literacy have teamed up for a novel – the singer’s debut in the medium, released concurrently with a pretty decent album thematically tied to the book.
Run Rose Run is, reasonably enough, set in the heart of the modern Nashville country music scene, albeit a slightly idealised version of it where the classic session-band sound rules and Autotuned pop-country is a minor irritant. Young protagonist Rose hitches a ride to Tennessee, adopts the musical alias AnnieLee Keyes and wows barflies and industry bigwigs alike – including Ruthanna Ryder, semi-retired country superwoman. AnnieLee’s ascent would be idyllic if not for some recurrent, stalkerish incidents which seem to link to a past she’s trying to escape…
Truth be told, I’d fretted about having to say Run Rose Run is an actively bad book, but it isn’t. It rattles through its 400-plus pages in cheerful PG-13 fashion and has lines like “That man can buy me diamonds until hell turns into a honky-tonk” among scattered bits of country music politics and textbook thriller pacing. Dolly doesn’t miss!
Run Rose Run, Dolly Parton & James Patterson (Century)
Price: £20. Info: here
words NOEL GARDNER
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