“For All The Right Reasons:” A rock and roll love story


“For All The Right Reasons” by Ann Lister, SleighFarm Publishing Group, 248 ppg, $9.99. Available at Bunch of Grapes, Edgartown Books, Phillips Hardware.

Island resident Ann Lister’s second novel, “For All The Right Reasons,” would make a great movie. I’m thinking maybe Uma Thurman as the gifted but hardboiled photographer who gets big bucks to photograph mega-rock bands as they tour the U.S. for months at a time.

Ms. Lister will be signing her new book at the Oak Bluffs Harborfest on Saturday, June 19 between 12 noon and 5 pm.

In “For All The Right Reasons,” our heroine is 30-year old Sydney Willows. Sydney has paid tough dues in a tough business and is now at the top of her game. Bands wait for a year to book her for stark black and white candid shots of them at work and after work that become their bios, promotional material, and coffee table books.

She’s been booked to do six months on tour with Reckless, a top-of-the-chart band, for the biggest payday she’s ever had. The problem with shooting rock stars for Sydney is, as she puts it “… a love-hate relationship. They loved her — she hated them and everything they stood for.”

Sydney developed her opinion of rock stars based on hard experience. As a star-struck 23-year-old rookie photographer, she fell for a rocker and got hurt emotionally and physically. Hence the hardboiled exterior carefully constructed over seven years of close contact with self-absorbed stars basking in money and fame.

So it’s all working, sort of. Then comes Ben Gallo, lead singer and major-domo of Reckless. He’s, well, rock-star handsome and seems to have a good heart, unlike his brother Simon, an archetypically amoral guy and Reckless drummer. You know he’s going to be a problem.

Turns out Ben’s had some heartache of his own so we get to follow two fragile people attempting to learn trust in the gonzo world of a touring rock band.

Sound like an updated bodice-ripper? It’s not. Ms. Lister ran a video production company in central Massachusetts for 16 years and knew, from behind the camera, the world she describes. She leavens her tale with lots of bad behavior, languorous sex, fist-fighting, and other violence. The plot unfolds over a four-year period in the lives of Ben and Sydney, and has several unexpected twists and turns.

Ms. Lister offers a behind the scenes look at the lives rockers lead. She describes a bifurcated existence. Rockers who receive unremitting adulation for several hours a night, then are left to be, you know, people. Reality can be a problem for stars that have plenty of money and downtime with which to amuse themselves.

Ms. Lister has been writing her books for years. She has two out now (“Sheet Music” was first released in 2007) and three more ready to go. Speaking with The Times this week, Ms. Lister said, “I’ve been writing them for years and now I have a goal to publish one a year.”

Jack Shea is a regular contributor to The Times.