on May 7, 2013 :
Return of the Beat
In the beat style of truth-seeking ramble for the sake of rambling while seeking the truth, this is an honest line. Moss, the protagonist, narrates the days of his life like scenes going by his window, and he frequently turns the mirror on himself. He is self-absorbed and cynical, and not a very likable character. But as he eviscerates all the people he encounters down to the bare skeleton and then fleshes them back together again, we begin to wonder if it is really him that is the problem. Is it possible that he absorbs the suffering of others, only to transform it to hate and fling it back in our faces? Maybe being an insensitive young man is his coping mechanism, and he would commit suicide if he had to internalize the pain and keep it.
Whatever the case, this is nothing if not character-driven, and the clarity of conscience is astonishing. There is no plot or Master Plan, but those things are antithetical to this hero's journey anyway. It is virtually timeless except for the occasional political reference. It's in some city in the American Heartland, but not any one of them in particular.
This book analyzes desperation and the human experience, ultimately affirming that Man is a bad animal. It reminds us that we look away from the homeless and go on killing time, but somewhere deep down, there's a sick little cringing feeling inside. We really don't care about that wasted, suicidal soul on the street-- but we should, but we don't. There is a lie that gets covered up. That's what's eating Moss. He may know that too, and when he thinks too much about it, he plays guitar. And it must be a sharply struck E7 that takes the pain away, and makes other people feel better too, just for a little while, just as long as the E7 rings.
(reviewed the day of purchase)