That Summertime Sound

Matthew Specktor, Author
Matthew Specktor, Author MTV Press $24 (268p) ISBN 978-1-57687-520-9
Reviewed on: 07/20/2009
Release date: 07/01/2009
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Towards the end of Specktor's debut novel, the protagonist declares that ""it is almost impossible to speak, act or be without quotation."" That may be the philosophy by which Specktor himself wrote this 1980s coming-of-age novel, a liberally clichéd tale of college, complete with all the usual references to music, drugs, first love and self-discovery. Further complicating the story's problems is the difficult-to-like protagonist, a jaded child of L.A. transplanted to the Midwest. What makes the book bearable is Specktor's clear love for music, those passages enthusing over a band or a series of chords are the work's most exciting. Despite the oftentimes beautiful prose, Specktor's characters read flat, dramatic tension is almost nonexistent, and the whole overwrought enterprise leaves one feeling strung out and dissatisfied.
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