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A night as long as a lifetime

London, 1977. The whole country is on the move. It is not only the political situation, but also hostile youth groups that add to the taut atmosphere in the UK. Terry, Ray and Leon are right in the middle of it all. They’re young, hungry for life and all working for London’s most popular music magazine.

The reader lives through a single night with the trio, the night that Elvis dies and that changes the world for a whole generation. It isn’t just politics and the music scene that changes, the night steers the lives of all three friends in a new direction.

Ray, the youngest of the group, grew up in a desolate working class neighbourhood. He can’t rely on his family to support him and tries to make it on his own. With a mother stricken by depression and an alcoholic father, he struggles with finding his place in the world and tries to find something to hold on to.

His friend Leon, on the other hand, tries to escape the overbearing expectations of his successful father by living in a squat with homeless and drug addicts.

The third in the trio, Terry, just decides to break up with his girlfriend when she tells him that she’s pregnant.

All of them are on the verge of growing up entirely and entering adult terrains. The personal stories feel a little too drawn out at times and too clichéd to be credible, but for me, ‘Stories we could tell’ is about the music and the Zeitgeist of the Seventies.

Author Tony Parsons certainly drew inspiration from his own experience as a music journalist for NME in said era. He might have generalised a bit too much using his protagonists as poster children of Britain’s various youth cultures, but the book is still a good read.

It seems like nostalgia got the best of Parsons, which is just right for readers who were born post 1980. He captures the feeling of a whole generation and makes me as a member of today’s society long for the days when young people were different: curious, optimistic and eager to change the world.

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