By the end of the sixties, 'the decade itself knows that it can never return, that it has only this one chance to live up to its own extremes,' as Zachary Lazar writes in his extraordinary new novel. Three dramatic and emblematic stories intertwine in Sway -the early days of the Rolling Stones, including the romantic triangle of Brian Jones, Anita Pallenberg and Keith Richards; the life of avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger; and the community of Charles Manson and his followers. Lazar illuminates a particular hour in American history when rapture found its roots in idolatrous figures and led to unprovoked and inexplicable violence.
Running through all the life stories in this novel is Bobby Beausoleil, a beautiful Californian boy, who eventually joined the Manson 'family'.In 1969 he appeared-along with the Stones-and various Hell's Angels-in Anger's film, Invocation of My Demon Brother. In Sway, Bobby is the embodiment of how a rising tide of suppressed conflict and debauchery needed, among other things, real devils, like Manson, and iconic ones, like Mick Jagger, to permit its expression. Many young revellers, expecting only joy and camaraderie from the era's music and communes, fell under a darker spell.Zachary Lazar puts together the pieces of a decade's rise and fall with uncanny conviction and imagination.