By Thom Geier
August 13, 2009 at 02:05 PM EDT

I stumbled upon the website for Matthew Specktor’s forthcoming debut novel, That Summertime Sound, due out later this month from MTV Books. The coolest, most puzzling thing about the site: a series of five sound clips, excerpts from the book read by the most random assortment of famous folks imaginable. It’s like a six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon game run amok trying to guess what James Franco, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Irons, and Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis could possibly have in common. (Specktor also scored a glowing blurb from a legit book writer, Jonathan Lethem.) The novel seems to follow a 19-year-old guy from California in the mid-’80s who sets out on a road trip to follow his much beloved, unjustly obscure rock band — though, to be honest, I only know that from looking at the Amazon page on the book; the website (and the audio clips) are pretty vague on the actual plot. Of the clips, Jeremy Irons’ is the most noteworthy, with his hilariously rakish reading of lines like: “Every rock ‘n’ roll story needs the devil in it somewhere.” But I wonder: Do celebrity endorsements like these actually work, particularly for the target audience of a coming-of-age novel like this one?

Photo Credits: Freeman: Solarpix / PR Photos; Franco, Paltrow: Albert L. Ortega / PR Photos; Irons: Janet Mayer / PR Photos