Book Review: Frozen Fire


Frozen Fire: The Story of The Cars

Written by Toby Goldstein

Photos by Ebet Roberts

Published by Contemporary Books, Inc

Copyright 1985 by Toby Goldstein


My quick opinion:

If you can get your hands on a copy it’s definitely worth the read, but I wouldn’t fork out a lot of money for it.

My long story:

Though I have enjoyed the music of The Cars for many years, it wasn’t until social media opened up the world of Benjamin Orr that I discovered a book had been written about the history of the band. Like all properly obsessed fans I immediately set out on a mission to gain possession of this gem, come hell or high water. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very realistic quest; the book has been out of print since its first edition and a simple search at the time revealed that if I wanted my own copy, I could expect to pay upwards of $200. Yikes! Of course, this high price made me even more desperate to get my hands on it; surely its market value was a reflection of the awesomeness of the contents and the extent of the treasures within.

As much as I tried to juggle the budget and scrape together spending money from the couch cushions, I simply could not justify buying this book. Thankfully I had one more trick up my sleeve: in my small town (population less than 2,000) we have the best little library ever, and Miss Whitney was able to get a copy of it sent through inter-library loan from another state. Imagine my giddiness! I was giggling like a fool at the check-out counter; couldn’t help myself.

As soon as I had the kids on lock-down for the night I dove in. The book is only 118 pages long and contains a generous sprinkling of photos so I figured it would be a fairly quick read, but I wanted to take my time because I was sure I would need to store up all of the fascinating details about the lives of my five favorite rock-and-rollers in the world.


Uh… no. Reality. This book is exactly what it says it is: the story of The Cars. As in, history, plain and simple. Not “stories about The Cars”… my first disappointment. It kind of starts out like you’re going to get lots of anecdotes from the members and get to see past their stage presence, but the book soon settles into the chronological details of the evolution and success of the band.

Now let me clarify here, lest I sound ungrateful. I LOVE having the facts laid out for me, as you know. I eat that stuff up! But it was kind of like expecting caramel chocolate cheesecake and getting Ben and Jerry’s ice cream instead.

Apparently most of the information is compiled directly from the author’s interviews with the band members and, logically, Ric’s voice is the most prominent one. I’ve got no gripes with this because The Cars always were and still are *his* band (as all of the members firmly acknowledge), so it is largely his story to tell… but my expectations set me up for my second disappointment: I wanted to hear heavily from all of the band members. Okay, really, I wanted to hear specifically from Benjamin. Unfortunately he seems to be represented the least of the group (likely owing to his own reticence when being interviewed).

ebetairportThe third stumbling block for me came early in the book when the author recounted how Benjamin avoided the draft by “acting mentally ill.” This story definitely sounds hinky, particularly because there is other documentation reporting that Benjamin received an exemption for being an ‘only surviving son.’ Though this snippet is told in the book in quotes (which leads me to suspect that Benjamin may have said this but was pulling the author’s leg (entirely possible)), the fact that it is included as if it were true cast an air of suspicion over the entire text for me. Made me feel like I should take the rest with a grain of salt, especially regarding other seemingly far-fetched details (a promotion where fans got to take showers with the band members? Really???)

Still, there is a LOT of terrific stuff in these pages.

  1. Some great insights from the legendary Maxanne Sartori herself, whom we laud for her faithful support of our boys and her determined efforts in launching The Cars.
  2. The author takes us on a detailed walk through almost three decades of history and couches the years with relevant industry opinions and events.
  3. We do get a little glimpse into what was going on behind the scenes during the breaks between albums (though I find myself with even more unanswered questions!), and
  4. I noted several very cool quotes, which I plan to use in future posts.
  5. There is a generous amount of Ebet Roberts photos, some color and some black and white, which are delightful and definitely stare-worthy.
  6. The author is obviously a great fan of The Cars, and her devotion to them shines throughout the pages.
  7. One of my favorite lines: “The Cars may seem as icy as chrome, but a fire burns within — the blaze of sensual intelligence.” (p. 3) So perfect!

It’s a bummer that the book ends in the spring of 1985. Of course, I wish there was an epilogue covering the years after Heartbeat City and through to 1988. Oh well. I truly *am* thankful for this handy and fun-to-read resource.

In conclusion? As a Cars fan, I still really wish I owned this book. It just *needs* to be part of my collection. Having read through it, though, and finding that its purpose is different than what I was originally seeking, I confess I don’t feel the same sense of urgency I did at first.

A quick check as I’m getting ready to publish this blog post reveals copies are ranging from $20-60 on ebay and Amazon… I’m thinking about it. Certainly much more reasonable than earlier this spring! And this library copy is in pretty rough shape; it won’t be around forever…

11 thoughts on “Book Review: Frozen Fire

  1. Also, see if you can check it out again. If the book is looking rough and the binding is loose or something, kindly bring it to the attention of the head librarian. Tell her you are aware books are sometimes re-spined, repaired or sold and if this is going to happen to that book, would she consider you as a first call if and when it becomes available?
    I acquired a beautiful book from my library in similar fashion. Heck, I would get that book out, keep it til I couldn’t anymore, return it, wait a day or two for it to get back on the shelf and check it out again. Must have done that for a year. It was needing to visit the Library Hospital to be doctored a little bit. I brought the minor spine degeneration to the librarian’s attention, told her I adored that book and almost considered it my own, having had it out so regularly. I told her I didn’t want to see it thrown out for falling apart. She looked it over and said, “You really love this book, don’t you?” I said, “I sure do. I have treasured it for a long time and want to see it gets the care it needs to keep providing pleasure to other readers and book lovers like me.” She said, “Well it’s yours!….Let me go do some paperwork to remove this from the system. You can take it home today.We can buy another one if we want.” The book was “The Royal Jewels” by Suzy Menkes.
    So if Leigh is unable to get you the book, try the library tack. May be harder being an inter-library loan. Or you could just wait for a serendipitous moment to happen, putting the book in your life when you least expect it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for the tip, Pam! Leigh did end up giving me a copy and I appreciate it SO much! It wouldn’t hurt to have a spare, though, so maybe I’ll look into the library thing. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are sweet to always reply so kindly and considerately.
    Glad you got that book for your reference library. I took a long beautiful ride to another state yesterday and blasted “Door To Door” and the Anthology set.
    I am so entranced with “Everything You Say” and “Double-Trouble” can go head-to-head with Def Lepard any day of the week. In fact, I wish they’d cover it. Bring it back to life the way they did Badfinger’s, “No Matter What”.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great music for driving! I love the live version of “Everything You Say” even more than the studio version. Benjamin’s vocals are so perfect. A Def Leppard cover would be great… and speaking of covers… Have you heard SixxAm’s version of “Drive”? I’m addicted to it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. haven’t heard it til learning of it from you. will check it out.
        donna, could you send me a back-channel email. I’ve got a technical question re: wordpress
        thanks, pam

        Liked by 2 people

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