Happy Friday! Our weather forecast has flipped back and forth over whether we’re expecting snow tomorrow night. In April. It’s not like I live very far north, or even in Canada. That being said, some humor might make me feel a little better about it all, and Michael Reed brings us two humor-related books today. Enjoy!
I’ve read quite a few good books lately, but I’ve decided to make my recommendation for “Generation Dementia” by Michael Hartnett. It’s an indie book that could certainly use more attention than it’s gotten so far. I chose it based on a promotional blurb and a quick look at the writing style. That’s how I end up reading most works by people I’m unfamiliar with. I’d call the book a cautionary tale except it’s too wickedly funny to be viewed in such a narrow way.
At the center of this intricate tale of urban angst is narrator Hash O’Connell, who as an intern in a trash pickup program discovers a box of old 5¼ floppy disks at the home of a recently deceased Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Levon Gallagher. As Hash reads the disks’ content intermittantly throughout the book, he learns not only about past technologies, but also about Gallagher’s link to his family. The result leaves him a changed person. There are other secrets to be found as well, but I think it’s best to leave discovering the rest to new readers.
I will say that along the way, the trash program becomes wildly popular with other troubled teens, and three of its participants, which include what I’ll describe as a garbage kleptomaniac and a trash-hauling violinist become reality TV stars – certainly seemed apropos of our times. In truth, there is a lot of Pynchon in Hartnett’s worldview, at least in this novel. That said fear not, this tale is more accessible than the bulk of Pynchon’s work. The writing is crisp and for me the pages flew by. “Generation Dementia” strikes that rare balance between side-splitting humor and thought-provoking (though never preachy) social commentary that is hard to come by.
As for my latest release, “Songs From Richmond Avenue,” deals mostly with drunks as I’ve started telling people who ask me to pigeon-hole my book, which I think fits best under the heading of literary fiction or urban satire.
It’s primarily about the denizens of the Relix Club, who wile away the hours engaged in their two favorite activities – drinking and betting. Until recently that was good enough for our storyteller, a journalist of questionable work ethic, who undergoes an epiphany following a bus stop meeting with pretty Michelle, a woman he declares has “skin so perfect I doubted she even had pores.”
Could she be his redemption? Maybe, but first he’d better contend with her baseball bat-wielding former beau, her nihilistic stripper roommate and the suspicious death of a friend, who fancies himself the father of Brute Generation poetry.
I’m told it’s wildly unpredictable and mostly centers on whether the protagonist of “Songs From Richmond Avenue” will put down his beer long enough to learn anything of true value.
Michael Reed, a finalist for the 2017 McGrath House indie book award for fiction, is a Texas journalist, meaning he’s used to living in inexpensive apartments and driving paid-for used cars. He does not have a wife or children, which is probably best for all concerned, and has never owned a washer or drier, something he takes great pride in. “Songs From Richmond Avenue,” which recently received a Literary Titan Gold Award, is the Southern Illinois University graduate’s first novel.