Rating: 4/5 stars
“The summer after graduating from college, 22-year-old Danny Wolinski takes a cross-country US road trip with his friend, Ian Perez, hoping to find the inspiration to reach his songwriting potential, start a band, and avoid student teaching in the fall.
Danny is tormented by intense physical and psychological pain and sees music as his only relief, but the more he searches for this inspiration in an America filled with endless parties, heavy drugs, and lost souls, the more he questions whether it exists. “
The Summer of Crud is disturbingly deep, hypnotising. I suspect this is the sort of writing that is book club worthy. I couldn’t stop reading it even if I wanted. It details the road-trip of a 22-year old, soon to be a teacher, on a journey that he hopes of encountering inspiration that will bring out the song stuck within him. The word ‘details: verb’ is underrated – the lead character’s (Danny) every waking moment in this journey is narrated.
The journey exposed a myriad of issues such as drugs, homelessness, prostitution, promiscuous parties, alcohol, etc, but these aren’t the reasons why I described it as disturbingly deep. It’s disturbing not because I found myself alienated from the lead character, nor am I drawn to him, only indifferent. Jonathan LaPoma wrote it such a way that it reveals the sort life that some people lead, and in such a way that makes me go “Oh, okay” instead of “Seriously, Danny? You drink beer to sleep and wake up to it?”. The word ‘party’ in this book has ceased to mean ‘a social gathering where you’re entertained and have fun with other people’, and more towards the dark and depressive meaning, which is ’people who get together to use booze, drugs, and sex to escape reality’.
Our lead character is at a precarious stage in his life, between college and ‘real life’. In addition to being frustrated by his inability to write the song that is trapped within him, Danny also has to deal with anal fissure, a medical condition that makes this trip even harder for him. Not even Ian, the friend with whom he shared this trip, and with whom he shares a ‘bromance/hate’ relationship, knows about this medical condition. It affects his confidence and how he behaves around other people in new places and becomes a factor when Danny’s feeling low and putting himself down. This road-trip shows readers how Danny deals with everything.
I couldn’t appreciate this book to the fullest because of two reasons. Number 1; there are plenty of references to music I didn’t know in here. I streamed some on Youtube while reading and it was a nice experience. Number 2; I’ve never been to the US so references to places during this trip probably meant less to me than those who’ve actually been there. However, I still enjoyed Jonathan LaPoma’s writing very much.
I’d recommend The Summer of Crud with some reservation. I know literary fiction fans aren’t as widespread as YA or mystery thrillers, especially considering this one hasn’t got that clear cut ‘traditional’ plot.
Thanks to the publisher Almendro Arts and Netgalley for my advance copy.
P.S: This is the first Netgalley read for me! So excited to be sharing this milestone with you 😄
Genre(s): Fiction; New Adult; Contemporary
Published: February 2018 by Almendro Arts
About Jonathan LaPoma:
Novelist, screenwriter, song-writer, and poet from Buffalo, New York.
He himself went on a 7-week-long road-trip with a buddy a few months after graduation. Afterwards, he moved and lived in Mexico for five months and traveled throughout the country. The experiences has been inspirational in his writing, mostly about the “themes of alienation and misery as human constructions that can be overcome through self-understanding and the acceptance of suffering.”
His novel ‘Developing Minds: An American Ghost Story’ is #1 on the charts for Amazon Kindle’s “Urban Life” and “Satire” categories.
Source: Author’s website