Owner/operator of Wolf Butler Art & Software, responsible for Diamond Find speed-reading adventure and much more. Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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Smashwords book reviews by Christian DeWolf
- Tweak3nd: A Disaffected Look at How it is to be Young and Cool or Whatever
on July 10, 2013
Taking a chance on new authors is fun because sometimes you happen upon a book like this. I read it in four sittings over the course of 24 hours.
Tweak3nd is a deeply alienating read - and it should be. It follows a group of rich NYU cool kids in 2009 over the course of a 4-day weekend, taking every drug they can get their hands on and partying every night (including Monday!). O.R.N. introduces us to a narrator who sees the debauchery for what it is - empty and pointless - but when she disappears thirty pages in, the focus shifts to Kennedy and her circle of vapid friends. We watch from the outside, unaffected, seeing everything. We wonder where the narrator went, but while some of her traits and philosophies are absorbed by Kennedy, we never see her again.
The characters we meet are remarkably authentic. Terrible people, but so real - compulsively absorbed in their Blackberries, tweeting pics of each others' outfits, spending money without thinking - young and rich, not a care in the world other than which party they're going to attend that night, and if anyone cool is going to be there. Cool is what these people live by, but even as Kennedy sees that it's all fake, she participates and excels. She knows the game inside out and she dominates, hating herself for it. She's trapped in a fake world with fake people and drugs are the only way out.
So many drugs. This book is first and foremost a love letter to THC. In a world where people are defined by what drug they do (and their brand of cellphone, clothes, taste in music, etc. but I digress), 'yerba' is the great equalizer, the common thread bringing everyone together. Coke habits are derided although ultimately 'cool', and the alcohol, Adderall and ecstasy flow freely, but marijuana is, like the narrator, omnipresent.
The partying all feels very real but would be an exhausting read if it weren't for the downtime. Tweak3nd veers between disjointed gonzo journalism and surprisingly lucid sections of hung-over philosophical debate covering money, work, sex, friendship, modern communication and, memorably, a multi-page treatise on hate-fucking. I didn't like all the characters, but the dialogue clicked along, and I learned a LOT of slang.
The text is peppered with links to songs the characters are enjoying, some of which I pulled up on YouTube for atmosphere, but they're poorly-spaced - five songs could be mentioned on one page, followed by a whole section of nothing. Giving the book a soundtrack of the times is a great idea but could have been executed better. The text could also use a thorough edit. Tenses shift from past to present to past again in the same sentence, and occasionally a subject and verb won't agree. Sometimes it made me cringe, but it also made me feel like parts were written *on* something. Playing "Spot the Intoxicant" in the writing was fun.
Not much of a plot, but it's funny and engaging, and only starts to drag around the end, when the exhaustion and self-loathing really start to set in. It's an immersive romp about a weekend that goes on a little too long. Very entertaining. I might read it again.
on July 13, 2013
This imaginative collection of 12 short (some very short) stories is a scattershot but ultimately satisfying read. Alexander Douglas is a descriptive writer probably best showcased in "Bait," an ominous story of a labourer whose work escalates gradually into polite exhibitionism, and then further. "Loving Rosalind" is another standout, a tale of revenge from an unusual perspective (which I won't spoil). The writing, especially in the shorter stories, is full of dark whimsy reminiscent of (for better or for worse) David Sedaris, but Douglas is at his best when he gives himself space to really get inside a character and construct a world, like in the apocalyptic family vignette, "Call the Folks." He's polished his gems, but some stories feel like throwaways - the thankfully brief "Viviparous" opens with the line, "The woman screamed as only a woman in labor can scream," a strong contender for the worst sentence ever written. The story is much improved without it. Perversities is, however, expertly finished off with "In a Pear Tree," a Christmas story about the struggle to fit in with the family you're marrying into, and what to do about it. Overall: well worth the $0.99. Apparently he's got a novel in the works and I'm interested to read it. -wolfbutler.com