In many ways Tisha Kulak-Tolar’s novel, Gen X, is an old story.
Girl meets boy. Girl befriends boy. Girl shares a place with boy. Girl pines for boy while boy boffs a string of ditzy, sex-pots. Girl and boy eventually fall in love. Then fall out. And eventually have one last good-bye shag. And all is far from being right with world.
Well, an old Generation X story, anyway.
Of course, that is reductive; there is more to this story than that.
And let me just say before I proceed any further (or is it farther; I need to watch Finding Forrester again to clarify). Anyone who bothers to read my blog knows that I read a lot but also that my posts about books are more like reactions than reviews. At least, that is how I think of them. Because I may start out talking about the book but end up on the planet of irrelevant tangents. So with that….
Of course, I was flattered that Tisha would want me to “review” her book on my blog (she is the first but hopefully not the last author to do so) but I was also a little leery because it seemed a bit chick-lit-ish to me, and at risk of coming across as some kind of literary snob I have to admit that such fiction is really not my thing. But I figured if Tisha went through the trouble of contacting me and sending me her book, at no charge to me, then the least I could to do was give it a go. So I did.
And as I read something happened. I began to care about what happened to Genevieve Xavier, aka Gen X, (clever, I know), and that is arguably the main ingredient for a successful story.
Gen X is a 22-year old woman who lives with her friend Jared, a man-boy on whom she has a crush, but Jared is too busy banging anything with a hole and heartbeat and a big rack. Or so it seems. One night he tells Gen how he really feels about her, if one is to believe such a scoundrel. But hey, Han Solo was a scoundrel too and he turned out to be a stand-up guy?
Jared turns out to be a stand-up comedian, a pretty good one at that. And before Gen and Jared know it they are on their way California where Jared is going to be a big star and Gen is going to manage his career. But Gen is quickly maneuvered out of that roll by a savvy, ruthless agent who has here designs on Jared. After a brief stay at the home of an actor that Gen had an almost tryst with back in Philly, the city she and Jared started in, and where she meets a budding sweetheart of an actor named Scott, Gen finds herself living back at home with her parents — ugh! — and working a suck-ass McJob for a Temp Agency. Could things possibly get any worse?
Then answer is: yes they can. They always can. Every GenXer knows that. Gen meets Chris, a guy with a big brown eyes and, it turns out, drug habit.
And this is where the story takes a darker turn and where you really find yourself alternately routing and fretting for Gen. Will she end up stuck in her home town? (The horror!) Will she make it back to Philly? (Mmmm cheese steak sandwiches!) Or even California? (living large, or at least relatively warmer than on the east coast) What will happen when Jared returns to Philly while on tour? (Dunt dunt da!) Well, you’ll have to read the book to find all that out, won’t you. I’m no spoiler.
The thing that is so (oddly?) compelling about Gen X is that you can pretty much see the mistakes the Gen is going to make. But that doesn’t deter you from reading on. It’s like watching the painful home vidoes on that show with that guy that makes mildly amusing remarks to an laugh track that is way too amused. You want to look away, but you just can’t.
You want warn Gen — No, don’t do that. Can’t you see what a mistake you’re making? But of course you don’t, because Gen is, after all, just a fictional character. And that would be just silly, like yelling at Rocky Balboa to get up in that final scene of Rocky. It’s pointless, but I did it anyway.
I don’t know. Maybe I saw my 22-year-old self in Gen, making poor decisions, and what I really wanted to do was save myself. Ugh! I sound like a Boomer in therapy. Somebody shoot me. Now!
Even if you could communicated with Gen, we all know it wouldn’t make a difference. Because she’s not going to listen. I know I wouldn’t have at that age. And to tell you the truth, I don’t really regret. Well, not too much anyway. Besides, it’d be a pretty boring novel if Gen didn’t end up in a tangled web of regret and broken hearts. That’s drama!
Finally, I have to say that I really admire the gumption to self-publish. I’ve not mustered the moxie to give that a go myself. Of course, I’d have to have something completed to do that anyway. It must be difficult. And one of the downsides of it is not having professional copy editors and proof readers to go over your prose, tune it up, and make sure to parse out all typos and mistakes. This book could have used that kind of care, because no matter how much I tried I couldn’t help marking corrections, like when I was a freshman comp instructor. It was distracting, but not so much that I didn’t keep reading.
It was fun! And who doesn’t like a spot of fun now and again?