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Pistonhead by Thomas A. Hauck


by Thomas A. Hauck

176 pages
Rock musician Charlie Sinclair discovers the meaning of success.

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Category: Fiction
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About the Book
Charlie Sinclair, the guitar player for the Boston-based rock band Pistonhead, is having a terrible week. Charlie’s day job at Evergreen Software is being outsourced to Puerto Rico. His dingy apartment is overrun with mice. The girl he loves is unattainable. His best friend, the lead singer of the band, is spiraling downwards into drug abuse. His old girlfriend wants to dig her claws into him again. His mother has a new boyfriend and the guys from his old neighborhood hate him because they think he’s successful. The band’s audiences revel in violence.

When things couldn’t get any worse, a tragedy forces Charlie to make a life-changing decision and take a bold step into the future.

This breakout novel, filled with gritty realism and dark humor, paints a picture of a rock musician’s life that is both poignant and inspiring. The concert scenes are exhilarating and the depiction of the grinding world of the assembly line is wrenching in its unblinking clarity. This is no rock-and-roll jet-set platinum-record romp; this is the real life of artists who struggle to get to the top of the local rock heap. Their limousines are subway cars and their backstage feasts are a couple of subs and a pitcher of flat beer.

Charlie thinks he knows what it means to be successful, but his view of the world is brutally challenged. How do you define success? The answer may surprise you.


...I have seldom encountered a more interesting account of the life of a working musician. Furthermore, there are few, if any novels I have read which manage to render with such painstaking detail and accuracy the sensations of performing, both on stage and off. As a novel, Pistonhead is an odd duck. It’s not a strictly literary work (but who would want that, anyway?). It’s not an exploitative genre exercise (which would be of no lasting, or of barely even more than ephemeral, value). Rather, it’s cross between a journalistic expose of Entertainment Babylon and a quasi-documentary account of a rock ’n’ roll musician—one with a great many very thinly disguised music business and local color flourishes. I read it in one sitting. It was that kind of book.
- Francis DiMenno, The Noise: Rock Around Boston
A troubled man looks away as he holds his Fender Telecaster close to his leather jacket with rolled up sleeves. The image is a common one in the rock star world: A shredding lead guitarist posing for a book cover that will tell about his life's journey as a member of the rich and famous.

Careful though, one must remember not to judge a book by its cover. Thomas Hauck, a Gloucester resident, has a new novel, Pistonhead, that tells the unfamiliar story of a guy living in Boston, playing guitar in a rock band and keeping a day job to pay the bills. “There's no limousines, there's no groupies; the story is quite different,” Hauck said. “It's a story I know something about, from my own background, and I wanted to provide readers with an alternative to the typical rock star nonfiction.”
- Cameron Kittle, Gloucester Daily Times
This one gets seven stars. This was very well written, with a nice, easy to follow story. I especially enjoyed that this was a very real story, with real characters. Everyone was, while not entirely likable, someone you could really meet in real life. It made for a very comfortable feeling story that left you smiling at the end. This is definitely recommended for music lovers and everyone else who just loves a good story.
- Beth's Book Review Blog
Pistonhead could be cast as a converse of literary nonfiction. While it is a novel, it is undoubtedly based on Hauck’s own experiences, thereby giving it a quasi-documentary feel. Even if it does wrap a couple things up just a bit too easily due to its compressed time frame, at just 175 pages the book is a compact look into the dedicated pursuit of an avocation you’ll never see on so-called reality television.
- A Progressive on the Prairie Book Blog
I didn’t give Pistonhead 4.5 stars (my highest rating to date) because it was a literary masterpiece that blew me away... I gave it that rating because it managed to pack more information, emotion, feeling, power and just plain real life into 174 pages, than anything I’ve read in quite some time. It gave a glimpse into the life of the guy next door, revealing the same issues, problems and worries everybody else has.
- Renee C. Fountain


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About the Author
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Thomas A. Hauck graduated from Cincinnati Country Day School in 1972. He earned his B.A. in History of Art at Tufts University, graduating magna cum laude in 1976. After college, Tom embarked on a fifteen-year career as a rock musician and songwriter, playing guitar with Boston-based bands including the Atlantics and Ball and Pivot. Tom left the music business in the early 1990s and embarked upon a successful career in non-profit administration and development. In 2004 he earned his M.B.A. at Endicott College. After serving with several leading Boston-area cultural non-profits, Tom founded Thomas Hauck Communications Services in 2006. Tom lives with his wife and two children in an 1851 Greek Revival house overlooking historic Gloucester Harbor.



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