M12 / Last Chance Press
March 24, 2017
What can an award-winning Nashville singer-songwriter learn about himself by agreeing to a best-of tour in a beat up old van? If it means getting out from under the thumb of a label that considers him washed up, he’s willing to find out. At least until an ex-lover wants to come along for the ride.
Carl Mahogany’s not your average protagonist. In the practiced drawl of the aging country singer, and echoing Edward Abbey’s Henry Lightcap, Boddicker takes us across the country in an Americana-steeped journey through Mahogany’s roots. Encounters with old friends and lovers, including the Eisenhower Interstate System, a firecracker tenured professor, former bandmates, and a down-to-earth small town mechanic, shake the dust out of Mahogany’s creases to revision his life.
If a lifetime of travel, songwriting and performing equates to learning to work with the monsters inside us, The Essential Carl Mahogany is that journey. Grab a six pack, settle into the cushions, and come along for the ride.
The Essential Carl Mahogany begins with a storm, a lightning, a tree crash, and a car wreck. Reading through the first few pages, I was not that concerned about Carl Mahogany’s seemingly petty troubles. Who wouldn’t? Here was a grown man, old enough to be a father of another grown up man (which wasn’t far the truth, if I may be allowed to say) who still doesn’t know what to do with his life. As I continued reading, however, I began to understand what brought about Carl’s possible midlife crisis. Still, these reasons weren’t enough to make my fondness for him grow. I found my self constantly rolling my eyes at his forced cockiness and sarcasm but ironically, this same sarcasm (and often hilarious self-deprecation) was one of the things in the story that had kept me going until the end.
Another aspect in the story that sustained my interest was the music. I was fascinated with the business side of the music industry and how it affects the lives of songwriters, musicians, and musician wannabes. I was especially enlightened about the word “essential” as used within the context of a musician’s career. There were several songs and musicians mentioned in the story that piqued my interest. Although almost, if not all, were unfamiliar me to me, I enjoyed the parts where the lyrics of the songs were quoted. I guess it’s my love for words that had drawn me in.
The pacing of the story, for me, was sustained by the mysteries that surround the somewhat aimless but rather colorful life of Carl Mahogany. The CDs which surprisingly appeared on Carl’s doorstep one day, for instance, created enough suspense to sustain my interest. And of course, the women in Carl’s life – past and present, are equally mysterious. I, too, was as confused as Carl as to how to deal with these very notable ladies, although I had been inclined to root for Karen. (“No one is above karaoke!”) The minor characters were similarly fleshed out (and remarkably unlikeable, except probably for dear ole Bill) despite exposure for some of them.
I’ve previously read and enjoyed road trip stories but The Essential Carl Mahogany is probably the first road trip story I’ve read where the main character is an adult man. I could say I enjoyed reading the story from that perspective.
The Essential Carl Mahogany sends out a Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity vibe – humorous but poignant. Carl Mahogany may be an adult who was afraid to adult, but he sure eventually learned to find his priorities in the end, crushed van and wet clothes notwithstanding.
“Which comes first, music or words?” “Neither. Where they end up is all that matters.”
*Read up more about The Essential Carl Mahogany Virtual Book Tour here.
Meet The Author:
Zach Boddicker grew up living the country life north of Laporte, Colorado. Ever more interested in rock bands and art than hunting, sports and other traditional red-blooded American activities, it was when he finally got his hands on a guitar that his journey into a life of music was catapulted into action.
In his formative years, Boddicker listened to and learned from everything he could get his hands on, but found direction one Monday night at a poignant performance at The Continental Club in Austin, Tex. by country guitar legend Junior Brown. This steered the author and musician toward honky-tonk, country and western swing.
Boddicker holds a B.A. in English and a MFA in Fiction from Colorado State University, which have proven useful for his endeavors into publishing. In 2014, his short story “Equipment” was published in “A Decade of Country Hits: Art on the Rural Frontier” (Jap Sam Books / M12 Studio). His first book “The Essential Carl Mahogany” (2017), which has been deemed evocative of Nick Hornby, Hunter S. Thompson and Don DeLillo, is the first novel to be published by M12 Studio / Last Chance Press.
In addition to his work as an author, Boddicker has been a staple of the Roots Music scene along the Front Range for 20 years as a member of 4H Royalty, Cowboy Dave Band, Drag the River, and many others. He currently resides in Denver with his wife and two daughters.