Books and music lead to more books and music. New releases refer to past ones, famous and obscure. Genres cross over, involving similar concepts, tropes, devices. (Song)Writers lift, pay tribute, re-imagine, claim as their own and take it a step further in the name of compelling art. Pick up the trail and we end up making extraordinary connections.

Welcome to Connection Degree Three …

The RoadRequiem For A DreamMustaine: A Life In Metal. Three grueling stories involving characters who go to hell and back in search of sunlight and redemption, desperate for a chance to make something of their lives in the wake of pain, loss, tragedy, addiction, and all-round abuse.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy is a no-frills, no-gimmicks odyssey about a father and his young son who struggle to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. The tale is so gut-wrenching and bleak, it sucks the color out of the room, making one question all positive assumptions about the human condition.

To add to the bareness of the setting, the text utilizes zero quotation marks and is loaded with fragments. Commas are scarce. The text runs on like a force of nature, demanding work from the reader in typical McCarthy fashion.

And yet, despite everything, behind its apocalyptic haze, morbid outlook and stripped-down grammar, a silver lining emerges. A sense of wonder. Father and son refuse to give up. They carry the flame of life en route to the ocean down south where the winter is not so harsh, or so they pray, fueled by the hope that hope dies last, a premise reminiscent of

Requiem For a Dream by Hubert Selby Jr., a no-nonsense author who specializes in all things grueling. The story is about four people desperate to survive the apocalypse of their addiction to heroin and amphetamines. Consumed by vice and wishful thinking, these tormented souls are living the dream at the expense of life at large, undermining their future. All they want is one more fix, the path to which is riddled with traps, starting with the nonsense they tell each other – and themselves – to sustain the illusion of their lifestyles, and from there spiraling into a vortex of decline that not even love is able to fix because love gone wrong is what caused the problem in the first place.

No frills or gimmicks in this story either, no quotation marks or paragraph breaks between dialog. Just a torrent of raw storytelling delivered with the savageness particular to an author versed in the perils of lowlife loneliness and corrosive drugs, which brings to mind

Mustaine: A Life In Metal, the memoir of the infamous Dave Mustaine, a So-Cal guitarist obsessed with creating the fastest, meanest, nastiest heavy metal band in history. It’s a rollercoaster ride of drug addiction, anger, turmoil and mayhem, which Dave survives, barely, laying out a path of creative destruction in his wake. Like a demon on a mission to conquer the world at all costs, he exposes himself and his band to punishment and abuse, which he overcomes with sheer spite. The raw will to succeed prevails. Dave’s rage is stronger than the pain, acting like a paradoxical well of energy that consumes and sustains him, summoning the four horsemen inside his mind to carry him through the apocalypse of the rock music industry, and the rest is extreme music history.

And here we are. The RoadRequiem For A DreamMustaine: A Life In Metal – three excruciatingly candid stories about people who suffer in the wake of personal loss, catastrophe, abuse and abandonment, with the characters’ every breath and every ounce of their energy spent in the pursuit of a world of dreams so rare and fleeting, they have trouble believing it exists in the first place – yet they pursue it all the same, for all the pain and doubt, for better or worse, en route to revelation and, ideally, redemption.


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