I read this book in two days, laughing out loud in various coffee shops, while I should have been at work. I guess the fact that I was blowing off work instantly meant that I was meant to relate to Buzz, the main character.
The characters are entertaining screw ups, especially Buzz’s friends. Buzz is also a big screw up, but the sweet relationship he has with his sister redeems his character. Sheppard’s use of dialogue is realistic and amazing. It’s as if you are at the Pizza Hut, where the characters work, listening, laughing, and cracking open a beer with them.
Sheppard’s writing is cynical and hilarious, giving the reader many classic lines. For example, “This barber had a pinched-up face, like someone had taped a dog turd under hi
s nose 20 years ago and he’d never removed it, except to maybe freshen it with a new dog turd.” Or about Tolkien, “He writes ponderous escapist bulls**t that bears no resemblance of real life. Evil is too evil to be actually evil. And good is impossibly good. And it’s written like a high school history textbook, so that the d**ks that read it can pat themselves on the back for being smart.” The sort of real life humor in this book is written in a real life way that I enjoy. (I promise not all the humor is scatological—I just chose these lines as examples of how his lines explode out of nowhere).
Now for the associations I thought of in connection with the book… It reminded me of Holden Caulfield. It reminded me of Bright Lights, Big City (the book). It reminded me of my college and high school days. It reminded me of Jesus‚ Son (the book and movie). It reminded me of Hunter S. Thompson.
It occurred to me that this book would make a tremendous movie (but please don’t cast Matt Damon or Leonardo D.). I also thought of a lot of people that would enjoy this book a lot but that this author was one that they’d probably never heard of.
I DO give Small Town Punk a strong recommendation, especially for slackers, 80s punks, clubbers etc.
Important to note: This is not a book about PUNK ROCK. Instead, the strength of the book is in the relationships between friends and their situations, as well as family relations and dysfunction.