Some New Trend

Read SNT from the Beginning by Kevin Wilder
September 13, 2010, 2:27 am
Filed under: News, Reviews, Contests | Tags: , ,


It’s been a little over a year since our last stop on the Some New Trend Express. If you’re just now checking in, start clicking around on the left to find out more regarding our little novel in blog form. We tossed a lot of time and love into this project, and plan to keep the site up for your enjoyment.

Click here to start reading. And then make sure to tell a few friends! Otherwise, we’ll see you around!

– Carrie & Kevin


Chapter Nineteen :: Josh by Kevin Wilder

chapter 19




Five words. One-syllable each. A single oversimplified sentence whispered to June over coffee before leaving the Food Court fountains.

If my life were a popular television series, a deep voiceover speaker could announce “Previously, on ‘Josh Bates’ Existence’…” Some important clips could then play from my recent past and prepare the patient audience for some closure the present day would reward. But life is rarely this straightforward. It’s one big difficult decision after another. People can only turn into themselves once, and the whole time secretly wonder if it’s the person they were meant to be.

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Sine coffea nihil sum :: Assassination Vacation by Kevin Wilder

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“Going to Ford’s Theater to watch the play is like going to Hooters for the food.”

“Like Lincoln, I would like to believe the ballot is stronger than the bullet. Then again, he said that before he got shot.”

“You know you’ve reached a new plateau of group mediocrity when even a Canadian is alarmed by your lack of individuality.”

Wow! Who knew assassinations could be this much fun? (*Correction: Who knew learning about assassinations could be this much fun. -Ed.)

Sarah Vowell, in addition to being one of America’s favorite cultural critics and social observers, happens to be an authority on the subject. During the introduction, she speaks of her obsession with presidential deaths, and how nearly every conversation somehow lead to this topic. It’s her expertise and sense of humor, combined with what might be the world’s most adorable voice, that make Assassination Vacation a total winner.

Maybe like me you’ve been to Ford’s theater. But did you know that Abe’s son Robert Todd Lincoln happened to be nearby when a total of three presidential deaths occurred? Also, did anyone ever tell you that President Garfield’s assassin was part of a weird nineteenth-century vegetarian sex cult? Vowell’s here to inform us this, along with a lot more. The anecdotes associated with her travels to these historical sites also occasionally make their way into this book, since after all, it is a vacation.

I recommend the audiobook, that way you’ll get to hear the original music. And even better, voices for former presidents and tour guides are provided by people like Dave Eggers, Jon Stewart, Catherine Keener, Stephen King, Conan O’Brien, and several others. How do you beat that?

The Funny and the Profound :: Downtown Owl by Kevin Wilder

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The Dog Lover was like an anti-humanist version of Ralph Nader, except 8 inches shorter and less interested in seatbelt technology.

For Chuck Klosterman’s fifth book, and first novel, he returned to familiar territory. The story takes place in the North Dakota town of Owl, and follows at least three citizens in 1983-1984. Mitch is a smart, girl-obsessed teen athlete whose class, along with the rest of the school, is reading Orwell’s 1984 to draw comparisons. Horace is a seventy-something man, who’s received his share of hardships, like dealing with the loss of his wife to a rare sleep disorder, and being cheated out of her life insurance money in a scandal. And Julia just moved to Owl for a teaching job, only to find out that every man in town is pursuing her.

There’s a lot to love about Downtown Owl. The good parts are great. The great parts are funny. Klosterman is able to juggle several non-interlinking stories at once. Sometimes, however, the narrative seems to go nowhere. In several longwinded portions, he gives into his editorial tendencies, talking extensively about sports and other topics that digresses from what’s ultimately interesting about the story: the characters, and their efforts to understand what is normal.

I heard an interview a while back where the author admitted finding difficulty in the process of writing fiction. Keeping this in mind, this book might be his winning inception. Can I admit, though, that I feel the same way about Chuck Klosterman as I do Kanye West? The very minute I think he’s glittering with respectability, he’ll say or do something to get under my skin. I loved what he wrote in a copy of my friend’s book, but hated it when he decided not to review King Dork, claiming the subject matter was too elementary. He might have hilarious views on some things and inaccurate opinions on others, but maybe we all can be blame for this. And furthermore, if from time to time  you wonder if you’re truly normal, well, you might have just found something in common with these characters, which might be a good enough reason to read this book.

Chapter Seventeen :: Josh by Kevin Wilder



AS I REFLECT ON THE BIZARRE chain of events that have led me to this place, I realize the limitations of my still-young memory. I can’t even remember the pre-upgraded, before-summer version of Josh Bates. At what point my social status reached the juncture where I could park my Eagle Medallion in front of Bryanna Summerson’s, then ride in her convertible to a girl like Rose McPheerson’s is beyond me.

Bry steps out of her car and straightens her dress. She licks her hand and presses it to my forehead, fixing my bangs. “Very nice.” When she turns around I mess it back up.

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High-School Spanish Failed Me :: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Kevin Wilder

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“You really want to know what being an X-Man feels like? Just be a smart bookish boy of color in a contemporary U.S. ghetto. Mamma mia! Like having bat wings or a pair of tentacle growing out of your chest.”

oscar-waoThough The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is not brief (335 pgs.), it is wondrous, and has a lot to say about life. Of course there’s also a lot of Oscar de Leon (over 300 lbs worth). It felt like a whirlwind ride, which is funny, because when I reflect on the experience I can only remember learning about the hypersensitive kid’s troubles with girls, and becoming Dominican Republic’s answer to Tolkien.

Junot Diaz’s 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel speaks about the mysterious fuku curse that’s followed Oscar’s family around for years, in both the D.R. and America. We meet a handful of characters along the way, and see how their portions of the story fit (or fail to fit) in the larger whole of the fuku curse and Oscar’s life. After the first 100 pages I was wishing we could stay on Oscar or his sister Lola, but further into the story came Yunior (our protagonist’s roughneck roommate, Lola’s sometimes-boyfriend, and probably my favorite narrator of all).

At about halfway Diaz’s storytelling became a challenge to follow, but his intense energy and amazing sentences kept me going. There was enough irreverent humor and wit to carry me through the liberties he took with grammar usage. He’ll switch from English to Spanish to slang (non-Spanish speakers beware), and as is the case with writers like Cormac McCarthy, he chooses to abandon dialogue punctuation completely. Diaz likes to use footnotes that tie in historical facts we probably wouldn’t know, and also mentions himself from time to time, just in case we’re forgetting it’s a work of fiction we’re reading.

If my review of this book is failing to jell, it might be because I’m still struggling to make sense out of it myself. I want to love the story more, not only because so many others seem to, but because there’s so much in the language to admire and appreciate. Maybe a re-read will transpire at some point, assuming I’ll become a more fluent Spanish-speaker.

List Wednesdays :: Book Nerd Dating Advice by Kevin Wilder

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Found today in a bathroom: