Imperfect Solo

A Dark Comedy of Random Misfortune

About The Book

For Readers of Jonathan Tropper and Philip Roth, the Darkly Comic, Poignant Story of a Man Caught Between the Aspirations of Youth and the Realities of Middle Age—Called “A Perfect Riff on What It Means to Be Human in This Unsettled Age” (Renée Montagne, NPR)

Meyer is filled with dread. His fading musical aspirations, his tyrannical CEO, his ex-wives, his exiting girlfriend, his elderly father, his beloved and troublesome children, and his confused and bewildered life all attest to his conviction that the sky will soon fall on his head. And then it does.

This is the story of a man adrift in anxiety, ill fortune, and comic mishap, buffeted by the existential and prosaic concerns that modern life in Los Angeles inflicts. Forty years old, caught in the netherworld between the reckless optimism of youth and the resignation of age, Meyer tries to find handrails and ballast.

Funny, intellectually probing, and poignant, Imperfect Solo follows the flailing and hapless Meyer as he seeks hope and redemption while his world unravels around him. Surrounded by the absurdities of a fading America, the affection of flawed but well-meaning friends and family, and the randomness of everyday life, he tries gamely to stay afloat.

He must navigate love lost and found and lost again, the indignities of aging, the courage to stand up to assholes, and the search for the perfect sax solo. Will Meyer find grace? Can he, or we, ever?

About The Author

Steven Boykey Sidley is an award-winning and multi-shortlisted novelist. He was once a software engineer and can often be seen playing saxophone in bands around town. An American citizen, he lived most of his adult life in the Hollywood depicted in this book. His first novel, Entanglement, won the UJ Debut Fiction Award and was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize and MNet Literary Award in South Africa. His second novel, Stepping Out was shortlisted for the UJ Main Fiction Award. Imperfect Solo is his third novel. So far it has been longlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize in South Africa and selected for Le Grand Livre du Mois, France's most prestigious national literary book club. He currently lives in Johannesburg with his wife, Kate, and their two children.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Skyhorse (February 19, 2019)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781510731837

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Raves and Reviews

“A melancholy, wry, and thoughtful meditation on love, music, and aging . . . Sidley wonderfully captures the hazy, bustling world of LA, and the descriptions of playing are comparable to Richard Powers at his best. Like Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to an End, the mundanity and frustrations of American corporate experience are depicted with unerring accuracy.” Booklist

"Smart, dry, edgily funny. A shrewd and richly disturbing pleasure." –William Boyd

Imperfect Solo is a perfect riff on what it means to be human in this unsettled age—a complex range of notes from the profound, to the tender, to the laugh-out-loud. Anti-hero Joshua Meyer is, like the characters of Martin Amis and the Coen Brothers, hapless and hopeful, brave and bewildered; he is a little bit of all of us. Bravo!”—Renée Montagne, National Public Radio

"Worthy of a standing ovation . . . There is perhaps one of the absolute best descriptions in contemporary literature of losing oneself while playing music . ..This book is a treat for many reasons, but for the music lover, it truly resonates."—Debbie Burke, author of Glissando

"If you like Philip Roth you will like Steven Boykey Sidley. They both created a middle class hero, average in everything, loud mouthed, funny, and desperate. Meye appeals to us as if we were sitting in the first row of a club listening to him with emotion, at times carried away by his joy, other times touched by the melancholy of his change. Life is but a jazz solo, ephemeral and intoxicating, and this book is a real success." –Elle (France)

"A chiseled novel you won't put down." –Marie Claire (France)

"A smart and funny novel about the horrors of running out of time and luck, set in Philip Roth terrain. Sidley goes eyeball-to-eyeball with the great novelists of America's 20th century and, amazingly, stares them all down." –Rian Malan, author of My Traitor's Heart

"With a subjectivity similar to that of the paranoiac in Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, Steven Boykey Sidley carries us into his hero's imaginary and real tribulations. A little jewel of Jewish depressive humor." –Livres Hebdo

"A hilarious novel . . . It signs the coming on the literary scene of a new troublemaker. Smashing!" –Madame Figaro

"Big hearted, whip smart, and his best yet, Imperfect Solo invites us to celebrate the coinage of an adjective: Sidley-esque." –Richard Poplak, Daily Maverick

"Unlikely as it may seem, the southern tip of Africa has given rise to a male narrative voice, the precise timbre of which has not been heard since Portnoy. This is not to say that Sidley's books are derivative. They aren't. They are an original product of the 21st century and as such ring with authenticity." –Fiona Snykers, The Times

"Imperfect Solo is a near perfect commercial novel. Not only does it entertain, but it provokes, intrigues, and captures the good, the bad, and the ugly so vicariously that it reads effortlessly." –Siyabonga Sithole, City Press (Johannesburg)

"Sidley plays with parody, engaging his reader at a deep level, while frequently causing gales of laughter even amidst the saddest moments." –Jennifer Crocker, Cape Times

“A melancholy, wry, and thoughtful meditation on love, music, and aging . . . Sidley wonderfully captures the hazy, bustling world of LA, and the descriptions of playing are comparable to Richard Powers at his best. Like Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to an End, the mundanity and frustrations of American corporate experience are depicted with unerring accuracy.” —Booklist

"Smart, dry, edgily funny. A shrewd and richly disturbing pleasure." –William Boyd

Imperfect Solo is a perfect riff on what it means to be human in this unsettled age—a complex range of notes from the profound, to the tender, to the laugh-out-loud. Anti-hero Joshua Meyer is, like the characters of Martin Amis and the Coen Brothers, hapless and hopeful, brave and bewildered; he is a little bit of all of us. Bravo!”—Renée Montagne, National Public Radio

"If you like Philip Roth you will like Steven Boykey Sidley. They both created a middle class hero, average in everything, loud mouthed, funny, and desperate. Meye appeals to us as if we were sitting in the first row of a club listening to him with emotion, at times carried away by his joy, other times touched by the melancholy of his change. Life is but a jazz solo, ephemeral and intoxicating, and this book is a real success." –Elle

"A chiseled novel you won't put down." –Marie Claire

"A smart and funny novel about the horrors of running out of time and luck, set in Philip Roth terrain. Sidley goes eyeball-to-eyeball with the great novelists of America's 20th century and, amazingly, stares them all down." –Rian Malan, author of My Traitor's Heart

"With a subjectivity similar to that of the paranoiac in Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, Steven Boykey Sidley carries us into his hero's imaginary and real tribulations. A little jewel of Jewish depressive humor." –Livres Hebdo

"A hilarious novel . . . It signs the coming on the literary scene of a new troublemaker. Smashing!" –Madame Figaro

"Big hearted, whip smart, and his best yet, Imperfect Solo invites us to celebrate the coinage of an adjective: Sidley-esque." –Richard Poplak, Daily Maverick

"Unlikely as it may seem, the southern tip of Africa has given rise to a male narrative voice, the precise timbre of which has not been heard since Portnoy. This is not to say that Sidley's books are derivative. They aren't. They are an original product of the 21st century and as such ring with authenticity." –Fiona Snykers, The Times

"Imperfect Solo is a near perfect commercial novel. Not only does it entertain, but it provokes, intrigues, and captures the good, the bad, and the ugly so vicariously that it reads effortlessly." –Siyabonga Sithole, City Press (Johannesburg)

"Sidley plays with parody, engaging his reader at a deep level, while frequently causing gales of laughter even amidst the saddest moments." –Jennifer Crocker, Cape Times

"Reading a Boykey Sidley novel is to experience vicariously a life lived to the full, with all of the excitement, tension, mishaps, and intellectual stimulation one wishes for but rarely gets. Sidley has the knack of expressing ideas most of us merely fumble at–and he does so acutely, fascinatingly, viscerally. Full of unflagging energy, verve, and surprise, Imperfect Solo is a rare aesthetic delight." –Craig Mackenzie, professor of English, University of Johannesburg and UJ Award judge

“A melancholy, wry, and thoughtful meditation on love, music, and aging . . . Sidley wonderfully captures the hazy, bustling world of LA, and the descriptions of playing are comparable to Richard Powers at his best. Like Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to an End, the mundanity and frustrations of American corporate experience are depicted with unerring accuracy.” —Booklist

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