Sunday, July 30, 2006
What I'm Reading -- Grab on to Me Tightly as if I Knew the Way by Bryan Charles
The Unbiased Part: Bryan Charles follows new high school graduate Vim Sweeny as he tries to decide what to do with himself. Vim has plenty of Gen-X angst in Kalamazoo, MI circa 1992. He plays in a grunge band (very Pavement-like), is falling for a band mate’s girlfriend, wants to quit his dish-washing gig and is trying to avoid his father.
Initially, I found it quite interesting, but too disjointed. Then about halfway through the book, Vim heads to northern Michigan to hang out with his cool, rocker uncle. At this point, Vim’s decisions on how to live his life drive the book to its focused conclusions. The peripheral characters are also quite realistic and the hero of this book is really Vim’s hard-working, intelligent step-father. Once it hits it's stride, the concise writing style gives it a lyrical slant, which is very appropriate considering the important role that music takes in the novel. The cover art is also well designed and looks like it could be an album cover.
The Biased Part: Reading a book about ’92 Kalamazoo is fun. Charles writes about tons of hangouts, restaurants and areas of the city. I’m biased because I was around there at the time and the same age as Vim. Charles does a great job chronicling the city and the vibe among the Gen-X crowd.
I definitely think this book is a great complement to other novels about my generation like Douglas Coupland’s Generation X and Microserfs, Max Barry’s Syrup and Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. Also, I need to figure out how to say "Grab on to me tightly as if I knew the way" in normal conversation because it sounds so cool.