cover image If I Knew the Way, I Would Take You Home

If I Knew the Way, I Would Take You Home

Dave Housley. Dzanc (Consortium, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (172p) ISBN 978-1-936873-66-1

Accents of hair metal, glam rock, and boy-band pop punctuate the 12 engaging stories in this collection, most of them set in rural backwater towns in the author’s native Pennsylvania. In “Rock Out, Mate,” a teenager being groomed for a lip-syncing boy band asks “What Would Elvis Do?”—and the same question for six other rock star idols—as he attempts to meet the challenges of his job by emulating career choices that his heroes made. “Free Will” applies the rhetoric of Geddy Lee’s lyrics for the Rush song of the same name to the performance of a second-string high basketball team as they desperately strive to win the last game of the season. “Paul Stanley Summarizes the Tragedies of William Shakespeare During Between-Song Banter from the 1977–78 Kiss Alive II Tour,” the book’s funniest story, offers six vignettes in which the KISS frontman attempts to stoke emotions by regaling the audience with references to Shakespeare’s dramas. Housley (Commercial Fiction) populates his stories with adult losers trapped in dead-end lives and teenagers struggling to escape a similar fate, but he treats the pathos of their predicaments gently and with humor, as in “So Fucking Metal,” which follows the antics of two generations of metalheads—an aging former roadie and his teenage daughter—at a memorial concert for deceased Black Sabbath vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Readers will find these stories light, amusing, and warmly wrapped (as Housely writes in “How to Listen to Your Old Hair Metal Tapes,” one of three essays that conclude the book) in “that gauze of nostalgia, the soft edge that comes from growing up with something.” [em](Jan.) [/em]