Editor’s Note: This exchange is part of a series of brief interviews with emerging writers of recent or forthcoming books. If you enjoyed it, please visit other interviews in the I’ve Got Questions feature.
- What’s the title of your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Poetry? Who is the publisher and what’s the publication date?
Radio Eldorado; Braddock Avenue Books, fiction (novel), June 1, 2020
- In a couple of sentences, what’s the book about?
Painting on a canvas large enough to encompass all the hopes and fears of a generation, Jaeger’s novel transports the reader back to the 1960s and an America rife with internal conflict and anxiety: Vietnam, the ever-present threat of mutual assured nuclear destruction, Free Love—a psychedelic funhouse of social anxiety—all played out to a proto-punk rock soundtrack guaranteed to blow your mind. Populated with characters across the political and social spectrum, Radio Eldorado focuses on the members of a band called the Wound Tights and their entourage of friends, family, and groupies as they all find ways to personally negotiate the volatile landscape, trying desperately to find answers. What is marriage? Parenthood? Music? Country? all in a world seemingly on the brink of violence.
- What’s the book’s genre (for fiction and nonfiction) or primary style (for poetry)?
Literary Fiction; Historical Fiction; Vietnam War; Protest Literature; Rock-and-Roll Love Story
- What’s the nicest thing anyone has said about the book so far?
I asked Emily Mente, a former student of mine, to design the cover, and her painting as a response to the manuscript says so much without using a single word (save the title!).
Radio Eldorado stays with you long after you’ve finished reading its pages. There’s a sticky humming energy to Tyrone Jaeger’s prose that’s impossible to leave behind. His Cynthia Hutton is a cowgirl radical searching for bittersweet exile in a world that isn’t quite ready for her. This excellent debut novel explores the turmoil and freedom of 1969 with vivid prose and harmonic cadence. I couldn’t put it down.
—Sherrie Flick, author of Reconsidering Happiness and Whiskey, Etc.
If you’re like me and have been waiting for a novel that finally defines the cultural revolution of the sixties and seventies in this country, you need to read Radio Eldorado! Jaeger writes like a man who has lived the many lives he explores in his debut novel, speaking with an authenticity that has been too often missing in earlier stories about hippies, drugs, rock and roll and anti-war activists. Not only is he the consummate craftsman whose sentences ring with breathtaking lyricism and grit, but he is also a writer who opens our hearts and minds to the struggles of the people he brings to life as they try to grasp the changes that are breaking apart the world around them while they must simultaneously redefine themselves and discover the true facts that have led to the challenges of virtually every shared communal and political value they’ve ever known. What results is a novel full of humor, satire, and uncompromising truth. Jaeger has written a novel that is as much for today’s fraught world as it is a reconstruction of the past. He reminds us that we can learn from the past, and not only that, we must remember it before it’s too late.
—Jonis Agee, author of The Bones of Paradise
Radio Eldorado is a music-soaked ride that is dark and funny, steeped in some history, and fueled by misadventures–I love these characters, this book, and Tyrone Jaeger–who is going to blow you away.
—Jodi Angel, author of You Only Get Letters from Jail
- What book or books is yours comparable to or a cross between? [Is your book like Moby Dick or maybe it’s more like Frankenstein meets Peter Pan?]
Radio Eldorado is a bit like if Daisy Jones & the Six was the abandoned love child of Flannery O’Connor and Charles Portis and raised by adoptive parents Denis Johnson and Barry Hannah.
- Why this book? Why now?
I was interested in the counter-culture and protest politics of the 1960s, and the more I learned about the era and the people at the heart of the resistance, the more I see echoes in our current troubled and hopeful moment.
- Other than writing this book, what’s the best job you’ve ever had?
I teach at Hendrix College and the institution’s generosity—along with the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation—allowed me time to write Radio Eldorado.
- What do you want readers to take away from the book?
Equal measures of anger, unease, and laughter.
- What food and/or music do you associate with the book?
Food: Corned beef and cabbage, rice and beans, and hot dogs
Music: Iggy & the Stooges; the Velvet Underground; Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band; and The Rolling Stones Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out, in particular, the woman who can be heard saying, “Paint It black. Paint it Black. Paint It Black, you devil!” before they kick into “Sympathy for the Devil.” (this was the inspiration for the character of Pearl).
- What book(s) are you reading currently?
The Quick and the Dead by Joy Williams
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (just finished)
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders (rereading sections)
Raised in Captivity by Chuck Klosterman
Learn more about Tyrone at his website.