Eff me if I can figure out how to write a review of Joe Pernice’s debut novel, “It Feels So Good When I Stop.” I’ve been a huge fan of his music for decades now, which I suspect puts me in familiar company with just about everyone who’s read this book — and which means there’s a tremendous amount of goodwill, perhaps even more than usual, between reader and writer. I’m not sure Pernice has ever penned a bad song, and I’m of the opinion that every Pernice Brothers album is practically perfect from start to finish. Despite all that, none of them have ever felt like stone-cold classics. That’s an important distinction — one I hadn’t realized until now — and, I suppose, it’s the bridge between talking about Pernice the musician and Pernice the author.
“It Feels So Good When I Stop” demonstrates that Pernice can write prose as ably as he can lyrics. It drops plenty of references to bands and artists and songs that lie just enough outside the mainstream to satisfy the music nerd in me. Page for page, it has as many laugh-out-loud moments as any book I’ve read. Its construction isn’t entirely innovative, but it’s a successful conceit that keeps things moving in a story where nothing really happens. It’s a fun read. It’s a quick read. It’s an easy read. Like any Pernice Brothers album, it feels both familiar and new at the same time. Like any Pernice Brothers album, it’s practically perfect without being a stone-cold classic. And like any Pernice Brothers album, it does what it does wonderfully — it just doesn’t aim high enough to be truly wondrous.
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