I have a special place in my heart and shelf on my bookcase for books with fun titles. It’s a good hint that the dog isn’t going to die in the story. Or if it does, it will be in an amusing way. I dole these books out to myself, like the good chocolate, so that I can stretch out my supply of funny title books.
Okay, the suspense has been killing you. Which book did I go with from my list? It was Loser Goes First: My Thirty-Something Years of Dumb Luck and Minor Humiliation, by Dan Kennedy.
Loser Goes First is a funny, slacker memoir of a guy who is sure he is a rocker from the age of ten to nineteen, even though he has never picked up a guitar. He becomes a man, sort of, who manages to miss the grunge movement by leaving Seattle to go to Austin at the very time grunge is picking up speed. And leaves a well paying job to bomb as a dot-com millionaire. It’s about being in the wrong place as the right time passes you by. The style is informal, almost conversational, with excerpts from his notebooks, like “Fantasy Interview With My High-School Guidance Counselor.” As he sets a scene for the reader, he goes off on tangents about fantasies or other episodes in his life. You know, it reminds me of how, as a kid, entire lifetimes would happen in the time it took for someone to kick the ball in kickball and the ball to hit me squarely in the face, destroying my image of being kickball champion of the world. Overall, if you like my style of writing, you will probably like his. And if you don’t like mine, what are you still doing here? There are like forty million blogs out there. Go!
What was a bit eerie for me (cue Twilight Zone music), was that the last page of the book coordinated so perfectly with what I posted yesterday. I wrote yesterday’s post about how a kid asked what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and I responded that maybe I’d like to focus more on writing. After writing that post, I finished the book.
On the last page, Dan Kennedy talks about walking past a kid who is staring at him. Dan imagines that the kid has been put in path for a reason.
Maybe he’ll say something so accurate it’s chilling, like some kind of fortune-teller, since kids can see the truth and ghosts and UFO’s. Maybe he will say, “Start writing. On the train. Tonight. In that gay little journal you carry around with you. It’s what you naturally do, ever since the sixth grade, except this time it will be notes for the book. You’ll be like a huge, thirty-three-year-old goony sixth grader with a book deal writing on some lame-ass commuter train. Now go! Go on!” Whatever he says, he will deliver the message that all of us have lost the ability to say in our jaded adult lives. Maybe about how our lives finally change but only when it is right for our lives to change. That we are not in control of this thing. I look back at him just before making my right turn onto the highway for the last part of my walk to the train. It feel like slow motion as he sizes me up that one last time. He opens his mouth and the words come out:Can’t say it better myself.
“Hey, mister. Why don’t you have a car?”