cover image Leaving the Beach

Leaving the Beach

Mary Rowen. Evolved Publishing, $6.99 e-book (286p) ASIN B07SG274FZ

Rowen’s angsty, passionate debut explores the virtues and pratfalls of rock and roll fandom. In the late 1970s through early ’80s, Winthrop, Mass., native Erin Rearden struggles with loneliness, bulimia, and heavy drinking during high school and college, and her love of music leads her to fixate on musicians, including Jim Morrison and David Bowie. Later, she is overtaken by grunge and a new crush, rock star Lenny Weir. The 27-year-old Erin accidentally meets Weir in the women’s bathroom at a small club in Cambridge, where Weir is to play an unannounced show. Only after she sees him onstage does she realize that the “ragged,” inebriated man who’d called her “Erin the beautiful” while they passed each other in the bathroom was Weir, and she believes they’re fated to fall in love. Her fantasies about their would-be relationship are tempered after she starts dating a musician named Luke whose career seems lackluster compared to Weir’s. Spare explanations of Erin’s deeper issues, such as guilt over her alcoholic father’s death, are overshadowed by frequent depictions of bulimia, but Erin’s obsessions drive the action, from her thwarted effort to gain Elvis Costello’s attention at a gig to rejecting Luke, leading to a bittersweet ending that reveals how she might have had it all wrong. Rowen’s frank delivery will hold readers from start to finish. (Self-published)