It would be fair to say that Divine Weeks, the band that Bill See was a part of, never made it to the extent that The Rolling Stones and The Beatles did. This would be because they split up in 1992, but that’s not the story that 33 Days: Touring In A Van. Sleeping On Floors. Chasing A Dream sets out to tell.
Instead, the book chronicles their 1987 American tour. Divine Weeks at the time of the tour consisted of Bill, Raj, Dave and George, all of whom have distinct roles in making the tour happen (or nearly not happen in certain cases).
Along the way, they stay in crappy hotels, beg a place on the floors of fans and kip in the van that they’ve rigged to keep the miles off. There are entertaining anecdotes, weird anecdotes and ones that make you disgusted with the dregs of humanity (an account of one lady’s racism towards Raj is particularly blood-boiling to read). It’s nice that much of the ups and downs of life’s experiences have been captured here in a 33-day, 275-page book.
The book is called a docu-novel by its author, because while it’s all true, some things might’ve been left out or gotten wrong in some details, which makes it similar to autobiographies in that respect. In many ways, it’s similar to novels too. The characters (i.e, the band members and their friends) are clearly defined, there’s ongoing conflict as they decide whether to pursue the band full-time or not and there is the obvious plot structure.
In these types of books, it’s a shame that there’s the foregone conclusion that they didn’t make it, seeing as we’re not all discussing the latest song from American superband Divine Weeks. I strongly advise from experience to avoid flicking to the end before starting, as there are a couple of small epilogues that tell you where they are now, and one or two of them are depressing.
The book is very well written, as it captures the mood that See wants you to feel at the time. The prose in here is professional-quality, even if it was self-published via Lulu.com (See has stated that he went the DIY route because it made sense considering the subject of the book). There are also photographs throughout the book that add to the atmosphere and help you see what it was like back then.
The only complaint is that most of the account comes from the journals of the time, and at times the author’s viewpoint can come across as someone who hasn’t quite matured yet. The most strong example I can think of is that a few paragraphs about life-affecting issues end with a disregarding “whatever,” which is a habit that teenagers tend to have in my experience.
The book varies from being drop-the-book-from-laughing funny to serious about life in general. The moment when I fell in love with the book was upon reading a paragraph of page 20, which I shan’t quote here as I don’t want to spoil it.
This is a book that I cannot recommend enough, even if you never plan to listen to the music available on the website or investigate further. Even if he doesn’t realise it, Mr See is a writer as well as a musician and I hope he utilises that skill again in the future.