Wednesday, June 7, 2023

"The Last Songbird"

Daniel Weizmann is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Billboard, the Guardian, AP Newswire, and more. Under the nom de plume, Shredder, Weizmann also wrote for the long running Flipside fanzine, as well as LA Weekly, which once called him “an incomparable punk stylist.”

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Last Songbird, and reported the following:
On page 69, amateur detective and Lyft driver Adam Zantz has just met Eva Silber, Annie’s long-lost mentor and former lover. What’s important on this page is that it’s the first inkling of Adam realizing Annie was not exactly who he thought she was.
I took Highway 1 heading back to Los Angeles, shadowboxing Eva’s vision of Annie. I dug Eva, this brassy, ballsy broad with her gin and her straight talk—she didn’t seem capable of lying. But wasn’t Annie more than the ambitious, childish songbird of her memories? Annie was sun-kissed, free, barefoot, but she was also cool, discerning—there were two sides. At least. I hated to admit she was as selfish as Eva said, but maybe she was. And yet Annie was also crazy generous—for someone at her level to try and help me was way not Hollywood. Yes, she threw tantrums when she didn’t get her way—practically a daily thing—but they didn’t last long. She was unpredictable, got panicked over tiny surprises. A missing guitar pick could send her into shrieking hysteria. Then she’d find the stupid purple pick and get depressed, apologetic, selfmocking even. She was this and she was that, she was all of it—and through the gaps I fell.
I actually think page 69 is not a bad portal into the whole thing! This is a story about trying to understand who somebody really is, somebody you idolized and adored…and learning that the answer is not as simple as you thought. And…this growing realization catalyzes the fall down the rabbit hole. The troubles really begin one page later.

The Last Songbird is the story of failed songwriter and Lyft driver Adam Zantz who just happens to pick up one of his idols, former folk icon Annie Linden. They become close, she offers to help him with his music, and when she gets murdered, he takes it upon himself to find out who would want her dead. It’s a noir mystery that aims to deal with the special power of brilliant, magnetic female artists—not just their power in art but their effect on those around them. My page 69 is very much a turning point for Adam in two ways—first, because he is starting to grapple with the different, often unflattering ways that each of Annie’s people see her. Second, it’s the very last moment where his involvement could still be casual or innocent. One page later, he’s arrested as accomplice-after-the-fact.
Visit Daniel Weizmann's website.

--Marshal Zeringue