I return with another book review and this time it’s for “Berlin-Warszawa Express” by Eamon McGrath. I always love reading books when the central theme is about music and rock bands whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. This particular novel has everything music fans love to associate with musicians: drugs, sex and rock n’ roll! Let’s go over the pros and cons of this book and get started on this review.
Eamon McGrath is a touring musician and author from Canada who has penned his experiences of being a struggling artist into a fictional book you could read in one sitting. In it he chronicles what it’s like to be a starving artists as he tours with his band throughout Europe, particularly Berlin, Germany. McGrath talks about how life in this city and meeting the locals influenced his both his artistry as well as who he is as a person.
“While touring Europe, Eamon McGrath wrestled with one of the biggest questions on the mind of any touring artist: should you suffer for your art? The pain and heartache that goes along with a working musician’s lifestyle must serve as a means to some kind of cathartic end, McGrath argues — otherwise that torment served no purpose. In Berlin-Warszawa Express, McGrath fictionalizes experiences from his life and the lives of his peers to seek out meaning and significance in the tumultuous and emotional experience of living on the road.”
On the subject of struggling and starving artists, I know that’s something I could relate to as an aspiring writer and music blogger. Having to work awful day jobs just to make ends meet and live out my wildest ambitions, is definitely not for the faint of heart. It certainly takes a strong person to live this lifestyle, whether a musician, writer, painter, actor or what have you. I definitely admire McGrath’s brutally honest take on this subject, because so many people want to be rich and famous but don’t have what it takes to plough through the rough terrain to get there.
There are a few moments in the book that I particularly liked and caught my interest several times. I won’t spoil anything for you, however, there’s one part where McGrath compares musicianship to raising a child, in that it’s a thankless job you do for free because you enjoy it. Another part I enjoyed was the DIY punk rock attitude where he discusses how real punk rockers are self-made celebrities and do everything they can to get to the top from absolutely nothing. I loved these types of messages in the book and feel it’s a realistic look into the music industry; I definitely can relate to them while I run this website and deal with musicians who just want their big break.
What rock n’ roll story wouldn’t be complete without some sort of nasty drug habit? McGrath covers his adventures during drunken stupor and occasional drug binges - waking up in some unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people? Like I said, this life is not for the weak!
Eamon McGrath releases his debut novel “Berlin-Warszawa Express” this coming May. My only gripe was how short it was with 100 pages and 15 short sections as chapters.
Check out Eamon McGrath on Twitter (@eamonmcgrath) and GoodReads.com