When Franz Nicolay quit his job playing keys in The Hold Steady, he did exactly what any sensible, accordion-toting folk-punk would: he went to tour the former Soviet Bloc on his own, sleeping in strangers' apartments and on venue floors, and traveling via overnight trains with dubious schedules. With Rebecca West as his literary guide, Nicolay visited some of the darker, stranger corners of the Balkans and the former USSR, met a tight-knit community of rockers, artists, dreamers, and all-around nutjobs, drank a quantity of Vodka, and played some great shows – all while witnessing firsthand the disturbing resurgence of nationalist movements and the renewed spread of Kremlin control in the region. A fascinating travelogue, a political study of an increasingly relevant corner of the world, and a rare rock and roll tour memoir that manages to be engaging and intimate without feeling self-indulgent, all wrapped up in one excellent package.
This violent, glorious book is about a 16 year old female Berserker who has to flee Norway in 1883 for the American West in order to evade the strictures of the law long enough to seek guidance from a long lost uncle who just may be able to help her contain her instinct to mercilessly slaughter anyone who threatens her family.
Berserker combines all the best parts of Norse mythology, historical fiction, and a solid Western. Think Vikings meets True Grit.