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Reviewed by Tilmer Wright Jr for Readers' Favorite
Ultravox vs. the Ottoman Empire by Elliot Stanton introduces the reader to Alexander “Sandy” Trevelyan, a history teacher and an obsessive Ultravox fan. Sandy has been following Midge Ure’s synth-pop band for over four decades, and his passion has never waned. Now, nearing his sixties, Sandy is at a crossroads. His reasonably successful, although somewhat middling, career is potentially about to take an upward turn. At the same time, an opportunity to plug into the world of his favorite band dangles at his fingertips. Ultravox or the Ottoman Empire—which one will be in the driver’s seat as Sandy heads into his future?
While reading about Sandy Trevelyan’s struggles with life in Elliot Stanton’s Ultravox vs. the Ottoman Empire, I was reminded of James Thurber’s Walter Mitty. I realize that’s a pretty high compliment, but the comparison is valid. Sandy is an “Everyman” who will strike a chord of familiarity with a lot of readers, especially those who question the choices they have made on the roadway of life. Sandy describes his adult life as “forty years of experience and forty years of regret.” The reality is much less bleak than his perception, but second-guessing and self-destructive thinking clouds his vision. Sandy is a good husband, father, and teacher, but he sometimes can’t see that because he wonders what might have happened had he pursued his love of music more vigorously. This is a pleasant and satisfying read. The book’s subtle humor serves to keep the reader aloft as they worry about what might go wrong next for Sandy. I found myself rooting for him, hoping things work out in the end.