Book Review: Detours is a rock memoir celebrating Mr Tim Rogers’ storytelling prowess, wit & wisdom

As any self-respecting You Am I fan knows, Tim Rogers can spin a yarn or ten. What they may not realise is that this legendary songwriter, artist, and musician has also achieved this in a book format, without the need for a guitar, mic-stand or a drink. Okay, maybe he did need the latter. His debut memoir, Detours, is a fabulous and personal read that takes in so many different topics that you feel like you’re having your own personal heart-to-heart with the dapper gentleman himself.

If there are fans out there expecting a chronological, paint-by-the-numbers, telling of You Am I’s history then this is not the book for them. This volume is also not about posturing and the name-dropping of celebrities. Instead what you get is some self-deprecating anecdotes from Tim, and chapters where you’re just as likely to read about a phone conversation with his mother, and his own personal thoughts about attending a local footy match with his Dad, than you are about hearing some tales from the life of a travelling muso.

Tim Rogers was born in Kalgoorlie. He says he likes dropping this interesting fact with strangers from time-to-time; but one thing’s for certain, Rogers does not need to make himself more likeable, he’s already someone most people would love to have a beer with. As a child his family moved around a lot and he briefly touches on this and his acne-prone adolescence. These days, he has carved out a happy existence living in a small flat in St Kilda. He is a long-distance father to his teenage daughter, Ruby, and he is in a loving relationship with a woman he affectionately calls ‘The Hurricane’. The chapters where Tim describes the important women in his life are so warm and empathetic. This isn’t very rock ‘n’ roll, but it never needed to be, because Rogers is clear that he’s not some swaggering rock star 24 hours a day.

This memoir is one written by a man with many contradictions. His memories and anecdotes are nostalgic jumping around in time, space and topic. But on the flipside he craves order, particularly when he describes his grapples with anxiety and various obsessive-compulsive rituals that he regularly carries out. He can talk about the music associated with the English sixties mod scene, but he is also just as happy holding court about AFL, cricket, and other sports. To say this man is a paradox, wordsmith, and raconteur is an understatement. He is all these things and so much more.

Roger’s prose is so poetic and shiny in Detours that you’d be forgiven for thinking that he had been secretly writing books under a nom de plume for years. Rogers also pens chapters called “Bagatelles”, which contain shorter observations or asides, and these are like little gems with a thought wrapped up in a joke and finished off in technicolour. There is no fat left on the bone in this book, each paragraph is more insightful and engaging than the last and that is the true hallmark of a great storyteller and artist.

Detours is an exciting debut from an Australian artist and Renaissance man. The book is positively brimming with different things, including how to be a man, dad, brother, bandmate, lover, friend, etc. It’s so darned engaging and enjoyable that you’ll be seeking out Tim at a pub near you just so you can continue hearing his story. On that note, let us all charge our glasses to Messer Rogers and his literary finery.

Detours is available now through HarperCollins Australia