From the author of The Perfect Play comes a charminglyromantic–yet very edgy-novel set in the music industry about friendship,love, growing up, and always following your dreams.
Danny McQueen has dreamed of being a pop star since he was thirteen-years-old. Now he's twenty-nine and still dreaming. But he faces a dilemma. His girlfriend Alison wants him to sort his life out. She's given him an ultimatum: Find a record deal by the end of the year or it's find a new girlfriend. When is it time to give up on your childhood ambitions? When is it time to stop watching Columbo in your underpants and get a proper job? Is six months long enough for one last assault on the big time? Is friendship ever more important than love? Is it just your imagination or can your girlfriend always tell when you've been looking at Internet porn? With the help of his boss Kostas, his two best friends, and an eighty-year-old Kung Fu enthusiast called Sheila, Danny McQueen is about to find out.
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Before turning to writing, Louise Wener was the lead singer of the 1990s British band Sleeper. She lives in London.
Read an Excerpt
Goodnight Steve McQueen
Do you remember the quiz show Winner Takes All? It had a top prize of one thousand pounds. They kept it in a Perspex display case. A thousand crisp green notes. Right there. Right under your nose, and it was real money as well, not like those cheques they wave about on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
I can't remember anyone winning it, though. Not ever. Most of the contestants seemed happy with fifty quid and a slap on the back from Liza Tarbuck's dad: a weekend for two in Blackpool if they were lucky. And you knew it would rain the whole time they were there. And you knew Peter from Wilmslow was secretly gay so he'd have to take Beryl, his arthritic nan, instead of Rita, his imaginary wife. And you knew he wouldn't be able to go backstage and have his picture taken with the Nolan Sisters after all, because he'd have to be back at the Grand Palace B&B before the ten o'clock curfew.
Thanks, Tarby. Thanks very much.
I mean, what a con. Talk about massaging the truth. It should have been called Loser Takes All. It should have been called No-Hope-Rubbish-Hair-Crap-Job-No-Prospects-Lousy-Boyfriend-Loser Takes All.
I can't help thinking I would have done rather well.
My name is Steve McQueen and I'm a very bitter man. What on earth were they thinking of, calling me Steve? Didn't they realise it would ruin me? Didn't they know I'd be tortured? Didn't they understand it would be impossible for me to live up to? Did they hell. It was my mum's fault, of course, she was obsessed with him. The only reason she married my dad in the first place was because of the name. It didn't matter that he was a geography teacher. It didn't matter that he was bald at the age of eighteen, fat at the age of twenty-two, and dead at the age of thirty-three and a half. Mum had what she'd always wanted. She'd married herself a genuine McQueen.
I was three years old when my father died -- he had a heart attack on a field trip to an ox-bow lake -- and for a long time I actually thought Steve McQueen was my real dad. I remember my mum sitting me down to watch The Towering Inferno when I was five -- spooning down my second helping of Heinz spaghetti hoops -- and feeling really proud. We both clapped at the end. What a guy. He'd even managed to save Fred Astaire and the cat. What a guy. What a dad.
There were pictures of him all over the house. Steve driving his Porsche 917 from Le Mans, Steve flying through the air in his 1968 Mustang from Bullitt, Steve being chased by Nazis in The Great Escape, and a giant scrapbook filled with press cuttings that she kept in a bruised leather suitcase under her bed.
"Who's this?" I said, flicking through her scrapbook one afternoon. "Who is this?"
"It's Ali MacGraw, the lady out of Love Story."
"What's Love Story?"
"Oh, it's so sad. Oh, I don't think I can talk about it. Not without crying."
And off she went, off to fetch a hankie from the dressingtable drawer, and all I could think was, Why is Dad doing that? What is Dad doing kissing Ali MacGraw?
I suppose things were okay to begin with. I was a great-looking child. I looked like the Milky Bar Kid only cuter: white blond hair, wire-rimmed spectacles, and the cheekiest, wide-mouthed, gap-toothed grin you've ever seen.
She was dead proud of me. I could tell she thought there was hope: that I might grow up to be a movie star or a Formula 1 driver or a teenage multimillionaire, and for a few precious years (apart from finding out that my dad was a dead geography teacher instead of an A-list Hollywood star) I was blissfully happy.
I brought home crayon drawings of racing cars and Mum stuck them on the fridge next to her collection of Steve McQueen quotes. I built models of doomed Apollo rockets out of cornflake packets and Mum put them on the sideboard next to her picture of Steve McQueen's house: 27 Oakmont Drive, Brentwood, California-- we knew the address by heart. I collected model motorcycles, built planes out of balsa wood and elastic bands, and I even went to martial arts classes on account of my namesake being a thirddan black belt in karate. I was rather good at it. I won the club's under-tens trophy in 1979. It was a great year. The same year I won a Blue Peter badge for my papier-mâché Shep.
And then it all went wrong.
"What's this?" I said, pointing to an angry red lump on my forehead. "What is this?"
"Oh. It's so awful. I don't think I can talk about it. Have you been masturbating, Steve McQueen?"
Of course I'd been masturbating. I was thirteen years old. My life was one long shower. I was the cleanest teenager in the whole of Woodford Wells. I masturbated so much I worried that my cock would spontaneously combust from all the friction (spontaneous combustion was very big in the eighties), and anyway it was supposed to make you go blind, not cover your face in deep-pile acne vulgaris. I didn't wank again for almost three years. I didn't dare.
I tried everything I could think of. I gave up chocolate, stopped drinking milk, painted my skin with foul-smelling potions that made my skin peel like a sun-baked onion, but nothing did any good. Every morning I'd wake up in a pool of nocturnal emissions, half my face stuck to the brushed-nylon pillowcase, desperate for a wank and a bowl of Coco Pops ...Goodnight Steve McQueen
A Novel. Copyright © by Louise Wener. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Reading Group Guide
Danny McQueen has dreamed of being a pop star since he was 13 years old. Now he's 29 and still dreaming. But he faces a dilemma: his girlfriend Alison wants him to sort his life out. She's given him an ultimatum: find a record deal by the end of the year or find a new girlfriend. When is it time to give up on your childhood ambitions? When is it time to stop watching Columbo in your underpants and get a proper job? Is six months long enough for one last assault on the big time? Is friendship ever more important than love? Is it just your imagination or can your girlfriend always tell when you've been looking at internet porn? With the help of his boss Kostas, his two best friends and an 80 year old Kung Fu enthusiast called Sheila, Danny McQueen is about to find out.
Questions for Discussion
- "Ambition is the worst thing to give a kid. They'll always be disappointed," mused Danny over his inability to give up his dreams -- despite his ambivalent attitude about trying to fulfill them. How did Danny's mother's own "unfulfilled ambitions" and her hopes for Danny to "grow up rich and famous" prompt his twenty-something malaise? On the contrary, what positive parenting influences did Danny's mother have on him?
- In every romantic relationship there are unspoken deal breakers. What were Alison's deal breakers? What were Danny's? In Goodnight Steve McQueen, how does honest communication affect relationships? Can it save romantic relationships?
- Louise Wener writes from the first person perspective of her protagonist, Danny McQueen. Did you find her portrayal of "blokedom" to be accurate? What challenges do you think a writer faces when they are trying to write seamlessly from the perspective of the opposite sex?
- In the United Kingdom, Louise Wener is famous for having been the lead singer of a band that topped the British charts in the 1990s. Do you think that the experience of reading fiction can be changed when readers are familiar with the writer as a public figure? Do you think that critics consider celebrities to be real writers?
- Ike, of Scarface, is a musician who "can't sing ... can't play" and "doesn't write any of his own songs," but who has achieved rock-star status despite these shortcomings. Discuss Wener's portrayal of the music industry: of who succeeds and who is overlooked, and why. Why does packaging and image often triumph over talent? What band do you think Wener's group Sleeper might have had more similarities with: Scarface or Dakota?
- In an interview with the newspaper the Scotsman, Louise Wener stated that: "Men are great at being friends -- much better than women." Discuss the depictions of friendship in Goodnight Steve McQueen. Do you think that Wener remains true to her statement to the Scotsman? In what ways do the emotional currencies of female friendships differ from the easy camaraderie depicted between Matty, Vince, and Danny?
- Though the members of Dakota all agree to take one last shot at the big-time before giving up their dreams and becoming "minicab drivers," they more often than not find themselves hitting the pub instead of figuring out "the touring, transport, and trousers." Discuss examples of self-defeating behaviors that they have engaged in pursuing their personal ambitions. Do you think that there were similar forces at work when the band chose slacking off over practicing?
- What role did jealousy play in the novel? What role did fear play? How do these emotions impact the relationship between Alison and Danny? How do they impact the relationship between Ike and Danny's band Dakota?
- What did Danny ultimately learn from Sheila and her daughter Grace that allowed him to finally understand his own complex relationship with his mother? Why do you think that Sheila chose to leave Danny something in her will? What did Danny bring to Sheila's life that caused her to speak about him "all of the time"?
- Goodnight Steve McQueen is narrated entirely through Danny's voice. How would the story change if it were told through Alison's point of view? If you were re-envisioning the novel for Wener, what other narrative styles would you suggest to her, and why?
About the Author
Louise Wener was born and raised in Ilford, East London. In the mid-90s, after years of singing into hair brushes and working in dead end jobs, she found fame as the lead singer of the pop band Sleeper and went on to record three top-ten albums and eight top-40 singles. She is also the author of the novel The Perfect Play.