Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Ghosts and Ballyhoo: Memoirs of a Failed L.A. Music Journalist by Thomas Wictor

Review By Patrick Challis

Written  By Thomas Wictor

Published By Schiffer Publishing

Autobiography, Music


Ghosts and Ballyhoo: Memoirs of a Failed L.A. Music Journalist chronicles Thomas Wictor’s ten years in the Los Angeles music industry and his quest to free himself from the past. Ostensibly a memoir, Ghosts also asks – and possibly answers – provocative questions about fate, destiny, and life after death. The book is structured as a collection of anthologies rather than a continuous narrative; the seven anthologies detailing Wictor's failed career are separated by six interludes with the "Collateral Ghost," one of the most brilliant, yet unsuccessful, musicians who ever played – former Frank Zappa bassist Scott Thunes. Thomas Wictor’s experiences include multiple failures across multiple spectra and an endless series of coincidences that always returned him to the notion that there is a Plan. Losing nearly everything he loved gave the author clarity, enabling him to see patterns of guidance and sustenance visible everywhere once he was no longer blinded by rage and negativity. This clarity exorcised Thomas Wictor and brought him peace of mind, which allowed him to transform the anger over what he lost into gratitude for what he once had. Written with profane humor and no self-pity, Ghosts and Ballyhoo includes previously unpublished articles, excerpts from interview transcripts personal correspondence, and photos.

Thomas Wictor is the author of five books. A failed music journalist, failed military historian, failed novelist, failed ghostwriter, failed biographer, failed poet, failed essayist, failed rock musician, failed miniaturist, failed photographer, failed field representative for a document-retrieval service, failed delivery driver, failed temporary worker, failed voiceover actor, failed copyeditor, failed technical writer, failed editor of the world’s first online newspaper, failed bartender, failed archivist, failed longshoreman, failed ladies’ man, and failed ally, he is the planet’s only expert on World War I flamethrowers. He lives happily by himself in Southern California.


I have to admit that I wasn't all that familiar with Thomas Wictor when I started to read this book but the synopsis for it sounded interesting enough to make me want to start it and I'm glad  I did.

What we have here is an unflinching, brutally honest and yet strangely hopeful look at a life full of up's and down's from someone who just didn't want to give up.  This isn't a 'woe is me' type of autobiography however.  Instead it's a very well written one that shows just what you can do when you set your mind to it and also teaches a good life lesson about trying your best.

Another thing that makes this book so interesting is that Wictor isn't afraid to point out his own mistakes or even make fun of them.  That's a refreshing change from the normal 'oh aren't I great?' type of autobiographies that are out there.

Wictor's distinctive writing style is quite unique and took me a couple of pages to get used to but when I did, I was glad I did.  The way he uses an honest, descriptive style really makes the reader feel like they are involved and watching his life unfold.

At times, the writing can get a little harsh due to the things that Wictor had to go through to get where he is today but the good things about that is that thanks to his personality shining through, he comes across as someone who accepts all of that because it has made him in to the person he is.

All in all, this is an absolutely brilliant autobiography and well worth picking up.  Not only did I find it interesting and enjoy it a hell of a lot, I also felt like I'd been on the journey with him thanks to his writing style.  I, for one, will definitely be checking out more of his work after reading this one.

Presentation 4/5
Informative 4/5
Recommended 4.5/5
Overall 12.5/15

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