Review By Di Parkes
Book Title – Eviscerated Panda – A Metal Tale
Author – Sarah Tipper
Probably a first for Metal Shock Finland – and most definitely a first for me – but here is a book review. As a fanatical reader of all manner of genres I was the first to volunteer when I saw this pop up as available for review. As I just mentioned I have never done a book review before, so please be gentle with me!
The author, Sarah Tipper, was born in Oxford in 1974, she has enjoyed writing from a young age and has been a metal fan since the age of thirteen; having attended numerous gigs, including Manowar, Bolt-Thrower, Suicidal Tendencies and Dedlok. Sarah studied Psychology at Reading University and also has a masters in Health Psychology, done at Coventry University. “Eviscerated Panda” is her first novel and she has also written a sequel this year (2013) entitled ‘Eviscerated Panda – Back In Bamboo’.
The storyline of the book centres around the newly-formed thrash metal band Eviscerated Panda and their assorted wives, girlfriends, friends and associates:
Central Characters: Eviscerated Panda:
Phil: Lead Guitar & founder of the band
Nick: Vocals/Supermarket worker
Jim: Bass Guitar
Paul: Drummer/Painter & Decorator
Ian: Rhythm Guitar & Webmaster
Suzi: Jim’s on/off girlfriend
Angie: Pauls wife
Cleo: Friend and avid follower of the band/biscuit factory worker
Jenni: Friend and avid follower of the band/lab technician
The book kicks off with the Pandas preparing to do their first ‘real gig’ at a local Reading venue, The Edge Bar. When asked what sort of music they play, Paul replied…
“We’re like Slayer, with five per cent early Suicidal Tendencies, five per cent Napalm Death, A bucket load of Black Sabbath, a bit of Pantera, a pinch of Judas Priest and a nod to Venom.”
It goes on to follow the trials and tribulations of a newly formed thrash metal band trying to make it in the cut-throat world of the music industry. Frequently doing unpaid gigs in (often) sleazy venues, sometimes even getting paid for it; even if that payment does only cover beer and petrol! I don’t want to spoil things for the potential readers by giving away too much ‘plot-wise’ but as well as the main story of the band itself the book also follows the relationships and ups and downs of the central characters; to the point where you find yourself rooting for certain ones to just get it together, and hoping others make it through their difficult relationship problems.
There are two main venues central to the plotline of the book, one being The Green Man, the local rock bar and the place where the band and friends meet regularly; and the other is The Edge Bar: local live music venue, where the guys get their first break. After this first gig, thanks to success via the website and word of mouth they go on to play/perform in places more further afield, places such as Swindon, Coventry, Oxford and even Camden. We get to read about the Pandas attempt to climb the ladder of success, the gigs themselves and the escapades of both the band members and other characters….even the fact that they manage to scrape up enough cash to release their first E.P.
As a huge metal fan I eagerly devoured the book and read it through the first time over just three consecutive evenings, I simply couldn’t put it down! I got the distinct impression – rightly or wrongly I have absolutely NO idea – that the characters of both the band and others, such as Cleo and Jenni are based on or around real life actually existing people that Sarah Tipper is either close to or knows socially; one could even be her – my money, for what it’s worth would be on Cleo J
Sarah Tipper quite simply ( maybe aided by her studies in Psychology???) has the knack of describing people and places in such graphic detail that you find yourself (or at least I did) becoming embroiled in their lives, the ups and downs, the happy and the not-so-happy times. I have to confess that for much of the book I did expect two of the central characters to get into a relationship together, and maybe this is exactly the way Ms. Tipper wants us to think – as to whether they made it in the end, well you will just have to read the book to find out!
One aspect of the book I really must pick up on is ‘The Girls Guide to Heavy Metal’….Now, whether or not this began life as a touch of ‘padding’ to extend the length of the book it soon became SO much more than that, it is both informative (especially to the non-metalhead female) and hysterically funny in equal measures. I honestly believe a mini ‘novelette’ based around this would go down a storm! I loved it all but my favourite two sections of this inspired part of the book would have to be ‘The Fashion’ and ‘Metal Love & Sex’.
To be perfectly frank, when asked to review a book on the subject of ‘metal’ I did sort of expect more descriptive aspects of sex, drugs and rock n roll; with gratuitous sex and blaspheming adorning every other page. But in all honesty the book did not suffer one bit for the lack of these (although it should be said that it does have it’s fair share so don’t start reading it expecting a plotline akin to ‘The sound of Music’ lol) In fact, had there been an abundance of these elements I don’t think the book would appeal quite so much to the general readership, and would have placed it even more into a ‘niche’ market, with only hardened metalheads giving it a chance. This will hopefully show mainstream music lovers that in reality we don’t inhabit a twilight world of satan worship and sleeping in coffins or hanging upside down like bats
In summary, I think the whole concept of the book sets out to show that metalheads and members of metal bands themselves are just ordinary people, with the same hang-ups, worries and relationship struggles as other mere mortals. Well done Sarah for a thoroughly descriptive, knowledgeable and enjoyable first novel, which as a hardened metalhead I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. Also I am pleased to announce that the sequel to ‘Eviscerated Panda – A Metal Tale’ is now available and is entitled ‘Eviscerated Panda – Back In Bamboo’……and I simply cannot wait to get my hands on it!
Both books are available from Amazon in both paperback form and for kindle:
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