Dance Prone

David Coventry

08 July 2021
320 pages


'A raw and raging celebration of music . . . astounding.' Megan Bradbury

'Funny, filthy, erudite, and rude.' Carl Shuker

'A magnificent novel.' Alan McMonagle

During their 1985 tour, two events of hatred and stupidity forever change the lives of a band’s four members. Neues Bauen, a post-hardcore Illinois group homing in on their own small fame, head on with frontman Conrad Wells sexually assaulted and guitarist Tone Seburg wounded by gunshot. The band staggers forth into the American landscape, traversing time and investigating each of their relationships with history, memory, authenticity, violence and revelling in transcendence through the act of art.

With decades passed and compelled by his wife’s failing health to track down Tone, Conrad flies to North Africa where her brother is rumoured to be hiding with a renowned artist from their past. There he instead meets various characters including his former drummer, Spence. Amongst the sprawl and shout of Morocco, the men attempt to recall what happened to them during their lost years of mental disintegration and emotional poverty.

Dance Prone is a novel of music, ritual and love. It is live, tense and corporeal. Full of closely observed details of indie-rock, of punk infused performance, the road and the players’ relationship to violence, hate and peace.

Set during both the post-punk period and the present day, Dance Prone was born out of a love of the underground and indie rock scenes of the 1980s, a fascination for their role in the cultural apparatus of memory, social decay and its reconstruction.

His book is many things. A giddy rush of indie excess, punk mayhem, outsider art, blurred memory, lapsed existence and sudden grace. A mind-bending trip that plays out in that liminal space between innocence and insanity; drift and purpose; rational and rogue; anarchy and calm; between what was lost and what may endure. Cut with a cast of characters sawn through the bone, language that giddies-up the heart, and always, always, alive with a throbbing pulse that insists you read on. Lyrical. Violent. Elegiac. Epic. I adore David Coventry's writing and Dance Prone is a magnificent novel.
Taught and intelligent, this story of music, trauma and artistic ambition has all the precision, spookiness and elegance of the best post-rock.
'What a brute fucken show, man.’ David Coventry's new novel is a gorgeous panegyric to the purity, poison and impossibly high stakes of punk. A young band of fleeting genius tours the living rooms and crappy bars of early 80's US before imploding in violence and horror. Dance Prone captures that thing about beautiful doomed brilliance sanctified by its miniature life expectancy. It's funny, filthy, erudite, and rude, like LCD Soundsystem’s "Losing My Edge" as retold by the mid-period DeLillo of The Names and Mao II.