It’s always extremely gratifying whenever someone follows their heart, dreams and visions.
Author Kevin Chong’s new book Neil Young Nation is a dream come true of a Neil Young fan’s personal journey . Specifically the book’s sub-title: “A Quest, an Obsession (and a True Story)” captures Chong’s adventure to discover what it really means to be a Neil Young fan. And here’s his story.
Kevin writes in Neil Young Nation on Neil’s music:
“He bristles against expectations; he chooses spontaneity over precision, passion over perfection. This was exactly what I wanted in my life, in my art. What Young called reckless abandon.”
Crisscrossing the continent, he follows the route that led Young to become a music legend. He visits Winnipeg, where Young formed his first band, the Squires; Omeemee, Young`s childhood home; Los Angeles, where Young became a rock star; and many more of Young`s former haunts. He meets rabid Neil fans, talks to people who knew Young as a kid, and puzzles over Young`s strange, sometimes contradictory pronouncements.
From The Toronto Star review by Patricia Robertson:
“It’s a terrific account of one writer’s wavering self-confidence, resurrected creativity and enduring passion. Neil Young Nation confirms Chong’s instinctive decision to embrace Neil Young’s example and head out on the open road – instead of simply assuming the fetal position in his Vancouver apartment.”
From a highly coveted New York Times Book Review By GARY KAMIYA:
“Hero worship is kind of embarrassing. We’ve all groveled before various idols, and if we’re lucky we never entirely lose whatever was real in our goo-gooing. But we usually don’t talk about it in public once we grow up. The Beatle fan magazines, the posters of Joe Montana or Diana Rigg, the volumes of Ayn Rand – these things don’t age well in the cask. Being starry-eyed is suitable for sonnet writers and teenagers, but at some point most of us either transform our infatuation into something deeper – like scholarship or obsession – or kiss it goodbye.
Kevin Chong, the author of “Neil Young Nation,” falls somewhere between adolescent awe and mature appreciation. He’s a modest and savvy enough guy that one suspects he doesn’t really think that driving all over North America retracing the steps of a mythical Neil Young road trip is going to yield some kind of epiphany. But he does it anyway. The result is like watching an endless home movie in which a not very close friend visits all the houses he grew up in.”
In a review in Las Vegas City LifeBY TOD GOLDBERG:
“Rust never sleeps, Neil Young sang, and in the case of Chong’s book, that’s never more apparent. Chong’s narrative invariably slips into the ether of road song sentimentality — visions of long, twisting highways and Neil Young on heavy rotation would do that to any writer — yet his engaging voice, casual humor and fine ability to conjure character from the people he meets along the way (everyone from Young family friends, to wheelchair-bound tribute band drummers, to a woman who made the original hearse trip from Canada to America with Young himself) manages to pull Neil Young Nation from a point of obvious reverence to something close to understanding both of the book’s subject and the author himself. When Chong finally encounters Young — albeit on stage at Farm Aid — the author finally is able to make the connection, that to be forever young is possible in song, but not always in life.
Neil Young Nation is love letter from a fan to his idol, and in the end that truth, that realization, carries the book beyond its sentimentality and makes it an endearing look at two artists.”
From a review in the Calgary Herald by Chris Ewart (19 November 2005):
“Neil Young Nation serves as a lesson in having a good time, and also finishing what one starts. The affable Chong found following Young’s road map to youthfulness a cathartic experience.
“There’s this great little quote from Scott Young (Neil’s father and a writer) that’s in the book. What Neil learned from Scott was to ‘lay yourself bare’ and keep things simple. To choose passion over precision.
That’s a very important lesson.”
Chong is currently working on a second novel, and wants to write another book involving a road trip so he can take his friends along again. Let’s hope Young figures in somehow, as Chong proves the man is far too important to leave by the side of the highway.
“Neil Young saved me from being an accountant or lawyer, so in a way, he saved my life.”
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