Archive for the ‘Reviews of Other Seattle-Themed Books’ Category

Just finished Tom Hansen’s powerful memoir, American Junkie.  I think if I had to describe it in one word it would be this one: honest.  No apologies, no judgments, no pontificating, no regrets, no happily ever after fairly tale crap…Tom basically says, ‘Here’s what I did, here’s how it all went down.  See ya.’

He cleverly alternates between the “present” (actually 1999), when he’s emerging from death’s door to a moving “past,” where he begins with his childhood and takes the reader from his early days in Edmonds, WA* through his use, dealing, and downfall with heroin.  Past and present converge as the novel progresses.

A few celebrities show up: Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley, and Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan.  But don’t read it for that.  Take off your judgment hat, and read it because it’s an engaging account of one person’s life, taken from a perspective that does not jibe with the American dream.

* – Note: Edmonds, a small town located about a half hour north of Seattle, is also the origin of the one and only Rob Morgan of the Squirrels.  Rob describes his hometown this way: “There sure wasn’t anything going on in Edmonds.  You ever see that movie Dazed and Confused.  Ah, that was Edmonds.  That was pretty much my high school experience–give or take the jocks chasing you around.”

Just finished reading Seattle author Dave O’Leary’s new book: Horse Bite.  I met O’Leary at my Seattle book launch party back in October.

On its surface, Horse Bite appears to be about a lonely man looking for love, but the book delves into much deeper territory.  O’Leary’s novel touches on something we all need in this life: a fierce desire for permanence.  As the reader follows the main character (Dave) from coffee shop to coffee shop, from bar to bar, we begin to understand his real passion.  As a musician who has a way with women, Dave can get laid whenever he wants…but it’s getting boring.  Instead he wants to communicate with the cosmos through his music, his writing, and hopefully lasting love…he needs to connect and become a permanent fixture.  So, yeah, Horse Bite is not just a love story.

I am normally not a fiction reader, but I found myself totally engrossed, page after page…wondering about the final conclusion, wondering if Dave will find what he’s truly after.  The writing is crisp, sophisticated, and clever.  When I finished, I found my emotions had run the gamut: joy, pain, sadness, longing, wonder.  O’Leary has done a masterful job touching on a theme we can all relate to.

Stephen Tow

December 1, 2011