Author: Adam Gnade
Publisher: Punch Drunk Press
Pages: 42 pages
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This short novella follows the unnamed protagonist – a Portland transplant and a stand-in for Gnade, I’m guessing – through a summer in Virginia, where he’s holed up to write a novel. Beyond that setup, there isn’t much of a story. Rather, the novella is comprised of bite-sized vignettes of dialog, anecdotes, and impressions of the people and places around him during his travels. Think Cometbus.
Gnade’s style is economical and affecting in a good perzine way. The Portland archetype (if not cliché) of the under-employed but over-educated boxcar hobo-wannabe can be exasperating, but Gnade works in this space well by steering clear of boastful pride and self-wallowing (the Skylla and Charybdis of the Portland zine scene). Yes, you have the cheap wine, cheap bus tickets, and off-kilter, transient friends, but the strong writing and hopeful vibe are refreshing.
Bottom Line: Travel perzine-like writing done well.