In this fictionalized retelling of some of the more sordid and shocking events of the wild and heady 60s, the mix of sex, drugs, violence, and rock-and-roll is spot-on. Featured characters are some of the iconic figures of the age ~ Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Brian Jones of the Stones, Anita Pallenberg, muse to both Jones and Richards consecutively, Charles Manson and Bobby Beausoleil, and Kenneth Anger, the filmmaker who knew both the Stones and Beusoleil and, thus, was at the center of the novel.
I won't pretend the novel was perfect. For instance, it was often disjointed beyond what it needed to be, and the culmination of Altamont seemed anticlimatic somehow. Yet it managed to achieve the flavor, the paranoia, the fervor of the 60s in a way that I remember at least vaguely from back in the day and that have stuck with me since I finished Sway a week ago. My favorite parts were the ones with the early Stones ~ Mick, Brian, and Keith. I don't know how faithful (no pun intended) to real life these events were, but they sure go a long way to explain things. I also enjoyed the discussions about the music, the mystique that surrounded the band, especially Mick (on whom I've had a crush since the 60s). I also found the parts about the Manson Family fascinating in a trainwreck sort of way. I read Helter Skelter a long time ago, so maybe I've just forgotten, but Sway brought things to light that I hadn't known (or remembered) before.
As I've already noted in other places, I came of age in the late 60s, and, when I say I lived through the 60s, I mean that I experienced most of what those years had to offer. In other words, while certain events shine through the purple haze with the clarity of the noonday sun, I don't clearly remember much about that time as a whole. While reading Sway, I found myself feeling a bit like you do when you remember an old dream you had a long time ago, and you KNOW it's a dream, but you suddenly can't help feeling in some eerie way that maybe it really did happen after all. Or maybe I was having a flashback.
Either way, I am glad I read this slim novel and am putting it on my TBRR (to-be-re-read) list.