Shiver ShakeShiver Shake by Owen O’Brien
My rating: 3/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne Star

nothing i say in this review is intended to come across as condescending, because i am truly charmed by this book, but i am in a particularly nostalgic/reflective mood, so some of this is bound to come across as “ah, youth,” but i mean all of it in a gently envious tone.

i am in a particularly nostalgic/reflective mood.

it could quite easily be called a funk or the blues or a cri de couer. but it’s where i am at. and why the fuck should you care if i am sad? you shouldn’t, necessarily, but if you are sad and you are me, this is a good book to read. it is not the best book i have ever read, but it captures something so well; l’esprit de ma jeunesse. sorry about the repeated frenchthere is no other way.

the basic premise is that a boy on the cusp of becoming an independent manabout to graduate from college and about to have mommy and daddy cut the pursestrings has a revelation. what the fuck do i do now? do i really have to become a cog in the corporate machine? do i have to work the nine-to-five grind and lose my soul?? is that all there is??

his solution?? to try to find “the answer” through ingesting many different kinds of drugs and alcohol and seeing if one of those will have the answer.

oh, god remember that?? the justifying of your druglife with the excuse that it opened you up to a different plane of experience?? that it helped you think differently and enhanced your creativity?? and the inebriated deep deep philosophy that would come out of those sessions?? yup, it’s all here in this book, complete with the occasional scrawled poem that clarifies everything. today, i found one of my old notebooks and man i was a bleak fucking druggie writer. but one with impeccable handwriting.

but these are all characters i recognize, and with whom i would have loved to play in my youth, except when they were drinking. they are fine on every drug, but when alcohol comes into play, they become seriously annoying. this is also a truism of life for many people.

jasmine has said before that she likes books where nothing happens. she likes books without a lot of plot or “action.” which boggles the mind, on one hand, but with a book like this, i can see it. because there isn’t much that actually happens. they burn some rice-a-roni (spoiler!!), he gets a job, he consumes some junk food, they roll a blunt on the roof. and at the end, he sort of does find the answer to his question during a wide-eyed mushroom trip. or is that just the drugs talking?

he does a really good job of articulating the experience of being on different substances.

the addlemindedness of pot:

“I love when this happens. I feel like a squirrel,” said Mateo. “It’s like i’m burying nuts and when I try and go back to find them I realize that I don’t even know what a nut is, let alone where i put them.”

he gets the efficiency of “cocaine’s gift of everlasting effort” where you can get a lot of housework done.

the sorrow of the minnow-thoughts of hallucinogens:

My mind scurried back within the shelter of its customary barriers, and I was confronted with the disconcerting realization that the answers that had streamed openly from my own mind were losing the certain connectedness they had held so vividly hours earlier. The back alley corridors of logic my mind had traveled were now muted and allowing little or no access. I could think the thoughts, but they lacked sufficient impact.

and the soul-crushing endlessness of office jobs:

I offered an agnostic prayer for time to move faster, but that just made me antsy and sad that I was willing a portion of my life to evaporate.

it is no accident that the novel proper, before the epilogue, ends with a nod to that other great procrastinator of life, j. alfred prufrock: and, in short, I was afraid. the wanton consumption of drugs tends to distance someone from engaging in their own life outside of the drug experience which is awesome for a time but then, you know, you gotta start paying for those drugs eventually, right?? and then the priorities change.

and so here i am, having yet to disturb the universe, but having just read a book by someone that i can tell really wants to. i gladly pass that torch.

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