Book Review. Misfortunes of T-Funk – Book one. Barnaby Hazen.

Author Barnaby Hazen highlights contemporary fiction with musical tracks embedded directly into the pages of his novel.
TAOS, N.M. — April 2017 — Misfortunes of T-Funk (Apr. 1, 2017) follows two musicians who refuse to quit. The contemporary fiction release from Barnaby Hazen also embeds his own musical tracks directly into the chapters of the novel to further immerse readers into the story.
Trying desperately to find an audience for their hard-edged “grunge” music, Theo and Judah are childhood friends who enroll in an unusual college called The University of Jazz and Music Technology. Attracted at first by the means within the school to professionally record their own original music, the two friends eagerly embark on what could be a lifelong journey – but the endeavor has an alternate effect.
It’s something the author knows all too well, as Hazen pulls directly from his personal experience in music. “I must admit,” said Hazen, “I’m having a lot more fun putting fictional characters through such hardship than I had on my own.”
The author’s decision to incorporate his original music into the chapters of Misfortunes of T-Funk is an excellent compliment to the story. Each of the four recordings are placed at significant moments in Theo and Judah’s story sometimes in direct relation, other times as an ironic side trail, but always intentionally to enhance the reader’s journey through the book.
Hazen’s storytelling style is influenced by Henry Miller, as well as Russian authors Fyodor Dostoevsky and Vladimir Nabokov – in particular, Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading. “It’s fearlessly, unapologetically ‘outside’ as we say in jazz,” said Hazen. “But the alienation, absurdism and disassociation rang a chord when I read it that triggered something in me – a realization about there being no rules when you have a voice and something to say.”


Hazen is an author, editor and musician, and regularly contributes to the education-based journal The Bud Hawthorne Revue  In 2015, he debuted a full-length collection of nine-strange tales on convenience store fiction in Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories.


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                                          Meet Barnaby Hazen

Barnaby Hazen is an author, editor and musician. Driven strongly by collaboration, it seems natural his first venture into writing began with a friend. Seven Eleven Stories periodical took shape in 2014 and just one year later, Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories  debuted with a full-length collection featuring nine strange tales on convenience store fiction.
In 2017, Misfortunes of T-Funk, the first in a series, pulls directly from Hazen’s own life in music. Having been a lifelong, dedicated listener, teacher and performer, his latest novel incorporates his self-recorded and produced musical tracks directly into the chapters of his new novel. Hazen’s music illuminates his main characters and further elaborates on the story, creating a unique and personal soundtrack for readers of the book.
Having spent years as an educator, Barnaby’s time as an elementary school music teacher particularly inspired him to become involved with The Bud Hawthorne Revue.  He writes and edits the publication, along with Mr. Hawthorne himself, and is eager to continue offering contributions to literary culture given his unique perspective on writing.
Hazen lives in Taos, New Mexico with his wife Sarah and their adorably troublesome pets.

Look out for a Q&A with Barnaby Hazen tomorrow.  

The opening of Misfortunes introduces us to two talented music students, Judah, and Theo. As well as these two there is Iris and Chase. The story switches from the different perspectives easily.

On their first day what follows is a night out, and waking in a bed that is unfamiliar. It captures the awkwardness of a one night stand perfectly, from Theo’s perspective. Out of Theo and Judah, Judah is the party animal, and surrounds himself with a group of girls that night. I liked the description of the girls. Barnaby Hazen writes the ordinariness well. I like the friendships that blossom, and as a whole Misfortunes writes relationships well. It reminded me in a way of A Secret History by Donna Tartt.

Theo seems to be the main protagonist. It is later on in the book we really go into Judah’s psyche. I felt the more human side of him. Letter Number Three is an excellent  piece of writing.

The book follows not only their relationships, and studies, but the music that is a large part of the bond between them, and the tracks they cut, and the band they form. I did feel by the final leg of the book I had read something similar to Misfortunes before, as Judah and Theo go on the road, and it gave a look into getting a band on tour, and all the costs involved.

The Misfortunes of T- Funk is a slow burner, but vastly enjoyable.

Author: Idontwearahat.

Katie is a published poet, reader and reviewer.

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