Grab On to Me Tightly as if I Knew the Way: A Novel

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9780060882983: Grab On to Me Tightly as if I Knew the Way: A Novel

A wise, bighearted, and hilarious look at one teenager's life by a remarkable new voice in contemporary fiction

It's 1992, and as Vim Sweeney deals with the recent end of his high school career and the uncertainty of his future, America shares his angst. In Seattle, Kurt Cobain reeks of teen spirit. In Washington, George Bush (the first one) has just finished rattling his saber at Saddam Hussein. And in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Vim is trying to put off adulthood and all that comes with it, whatever that is, for as long as he can. He's already juggling guitars, girls, and a long-absent biological father who's suddenly making noise about Wanting to Be Involved. And he still can't convince his friends why local schoolboy hero Derek Jeter is bound for obscurity.

Grab On to Me Tightly as if I Knew the Way traces Vim's stumble toward adulthood as he comes to terms with his parents, balances friendships and infatuation with varying levels of success, and accepts that the things he thought would last forever probably won't. Generous in spirit and laugh-out-loud funny, here is a novel that introduces a tremendous new talent and deftly captures the alternately amusing and harrowing process of holding on until you find your way.

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About the Author:

Bryan Charles was born in Michigan and lives in Brooklyn. His writing has appeared in Open City and the anthology Before and After: Stories From New York. This is his first novel.

From Booklist:

*Starred Review* The wistful title (taken from song lyrics by the band Pavement), eye-catching cover art from Chicago printmaker Jay Ryan, and fine writing from the gifted Charles make for a powerful combination in a debut novel that seems poised to generate a fair amount of buzz. It's 1992, and Vim Sweeney, newly graduated from Kalamazoo High School and a member of the band Judy Lumpers, is casting a wary eye toward the future: "college, beer, job, marriage, babies, debt, divorce, nuclear annihilation." Kurt Cobain is taking the music world by storm, hometown boy Derek Jeter is making his mark in the major leagues, and Vim is washing dishes at the Gull Lake Cafe side by side with dour ex-felon Wendell, wondering all the while if "it's too early in the game to concede defeat." Charles strings together poetic, episodic glimpses of Vim's life, including his erotic infatuation with his bandmate's girlfriend, his anger at his deadbeat dad and love for his stepfather, and, most of all, his desperate yearning to make sense of the world. Telegraphing ambience in the details--pithy T-shirt slogans, brightly lit donut shops, apt song lyrics--Charles draws a loving if unforgiving portrait of the seedy, semirural Midwest. His approach--plenty of heart and laugh-out-loud humor--will invite comparisons to Nick Hornby, but let it be said that Charles does it his way. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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