Grab On to Me Tightly as if I Knew the Way

Bryan Charles, Author
Bryan Charles, Author . Harper Perennial $13.95 (213p) ISBN 978-0-06-088298-3
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 06/01/2006
Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-06-210216-4
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Recent high school grad Vincent Sweeney, though unmistakably sweet, also masquerades as crass, courts his own demise by baiting bar thugs, nurses rock star fantasies with his band, Judy Lumpers (it's grungy in 1992 Kalamazoo, Mich.), and plays indifferent after losing his virginity in a one-night stand. After flippantly quitting his dishwashing job, Vim (from a childhood mispronunciation) runs up against his stepfather's blue-collar bitterness with quiet acceptance and embarks on a short-distance road trip. Fits of rage and exaggerated lust, tinged with self-loathing, erupt from within a searing numbness, which puzzles Vim, and which he parses using lyrics from the like of Jim Morrison, Fugazi and Nirvana. Charles, in this debut, gives Vim an unevenly self-aware first person, making large portions of the book read like a vague, angry diary; they're dull, but come through as convincingly natural and make moments of connection (as with a bandmate's girlfriend) take on a special glow. (June 16)

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