Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft

Published October 25, 2010.

When you piss off a bridge into a snowstorm, it feels like you're connecting with eternal things. Paying homage to something or someone. But who? The Druids? Walt Whitman? No, I pay homage to one person only, my brother, my twin.

In life. In death.

Since the death of his brother, Jonathan's been losing his grip on reality. Last year's Best Young Poet and gifted guitarist is now Taft High School's resident tortured artist, when he bothers to show up. He's on track to repeat eleventh grade, but his English teacher, his principal, and his crew of Thicks (who refuse to be seniors without him) won't sit back and let him fail. (from netgalley.com)

Sad to say, this was another Did Not Finish. By the halfway point I just felt the plot was sluggish and I really couldn't stand the voice. Not to mention it went far too into guitar detail for my liking. I mean, I get it. The kid's a guitar player. But with all of the chord talk and types of guitars, I found myself zoning out. I like a good guitar as much as the next guy but I'm not at that level. I just couldn't appreciate the knowledge.

The voice of the story was the biggest issue for me. It was angsty to the Curt Cobain degree. Like the kid stepped out of 1992 dripping in unwashed plaid and Doc Martins. Not only did I feel the voice was misplaced for the setting (it's a current setting but seeped in 20-year-old music, surely not every teenager in Seattle is gaga for the ancient grunge scene still), it was just trying too hard to be all "I don't give a shit" pissy and I just found it really annoying. Yeah, I get it. The kid's brother died (whom I couldn't get over the fact that anyone would name their kid Telemachus) and he's coping but I'm not a fan of anyone wallowing in their own self-pity, let alone a kid set to his own devices in a contrived situation where no one really gives a crap.

I could blame it on his mother but I just felt her really cliche. Some deadbeat pseudo-whore that leeches off of her son, forcing him to make a better life for her instead of being the mother she actually is. Yeah, it's a shitty situation but I just felt it was tired so I couldn't really empathize with anything.

So between Jonathan's pissing and moaning and constant guitar-playing and "LOOK AT ME" pseudo-suicide attempts, the mismatched and misplaced voice and a stumbling-along plot, I just couldn't make it to the end. Maybe if the voice were different. Maybe if it didn't try so hard to be a byproduct of Curt Cobain's pre-emo emoism and Mitch Albom's latent inner-teen's nightmare. Maybe if it was just truer to itself, I would have liked it more. Maybe someone with a little more patience than me could make it through to the end but I just didn't care enough about the MC, or his story, to do it.

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