Guitarist Pete Townshend is releasing his debut novel The Age of Anxiety next fall. The Who rocker describes the book as an “extended meditation on manic genius and the dark art of creativity.”
About 10 years ago, Townshend decided to “create a magnum opus” combining opera, art installation and a novel, reports The Guardian. He finished the novel, is in the midst of developing the opera and is making plans for the art installation.
“I am an avid reader and have really enjoyed writing it,” Townshend explained. “I am also happy to say the majority of the music is composed, ready to be polished up for release and performance. It’s tremendously exciting.”
Hodder & Stoughton imprint Coronet has acquired the book. Publisher Mark Booth describes it as “a great rock novel” featuring a witty and unreliable narrator.
“First conceived as an opera, The Age of Anxiety deals with mythic and operatic themes including a maze, divine madness and long-lost children,” Booth noted. “Hallucinations and soundscapes haunt this novel, which on one level is an extended meditation on manic genius and the dark art of creativity.”
Townshend has had a long love affair with books and the written word. He founded his own imprint, Eel Pie Publishing, in 1977 and opened a bookshop called the Magic Bus in Richmond, England. It still operates under the name Open Book, according to The Guardian. In the early ‘80s, Townshend was an editor at Faber and Faber. He has collaborated on several music books, including Animals’ singer Eric Burdon’s memoir and Brian Eno’s lyric book More Dark Than Shark. He also worked on a musical developed from poet Ted Hughes’ children’s book The Iron Man.
The guitarist published a short-story collection in 1985 and used pieces from a never-published novel for his 1993 solo album Psychoderelict.
Townshend is keeping very busy these days. In addition to completing his magnum opus, he is working with The Who on a new album, the band’s first in 13 years.