Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Book Review: F250

Read 9/4/15 - 9/9/15
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended to fans of twenty-something fuck-ups who live to the beat of their own drum, like, literally.
Pages: 236
Publisher: Piscataway House
Released: August 2015

It's not often that an author can make me pine for a life I never lived. By twenty-one, I was knocked up, working my way up the corporate ladder in a distribution center, and paying rent and utilities in a townhouse with the love of my life. I was the epitome of responsibility. Yet here, as I read Bud Smith's novel, I am aching for an opportunity to turn the clock back and experiment with life a little more.

Now, don't get me wrong, as a teenager, I did my share of stupid things. Running around town at night in my friend's beat up pickup truck stealing soda machines. Chilling out at bonfire parties where the drugs and drinks were never in short supply (not that I did the drugs. I was a bit of a goodie two-shoes in that respect. But the drinks, oh yes, pass me a SoCo and OJ or a bottle of peach snaps and I was good to go). Talking a friend off a toilet seat when he huffed too much butane and thought his heart was exploding in his chest. Hitting up every concert we could scrounge up the money to see. Peeing on the side of an Irish Bar in Canada when they wouldn't let me in because they thought my Florida ID was fake and I was in a pissy mood. Moving out of the family house the moment I turned eighteen to live in a piece of shit house with a bunch of guy friends who showered more than any other men I know and always left me with cold water and no clean towels, and who let strangers climb in and out of our windows to crash in our living room whenever they wanted, eating my food and playing their stupid guitars and drums till all hours of the night. Then moving out of there and into my mom's place, taking up space while I tried college on for size.

So, wait. I guess I did have a pretty rad past. I just experienced it a little sooner and grew out of it much quicker than Bud's protagonist and his pals. Already into their twenties, Lee and Feral and Seth are riding life out in a condemned house, scrounging up just enough dough to get their band into the studio for a few recording sessions. Dating chicks, doing drugs, being chill. Lee, like me, is the most responsible of the bunch. He's a been-there-done-that-already kinda guy, having left his old stomping grounds in search of adventure and having found it all lacking. Now that he's back, he's sliding into his old routines, digging up masonry work where he can, falling in love with the wrong sort of girls, and trying to figure out what he wants from life. His head is screwed on straight, and his intentions seem to be in the right place, even though he can't get the hell out of his own way most of the time.

F250 is kinda magical, in the most anti-fairy-tale sort of way. Bud writes from the heart. His approach to storytelling is refreshing, and nostalgic, and perfectly rough around the edges. His characters are tested time and time again, and each time Bud knocks 'em down, he helps them pick themselves up and brush themselves off and square up to the next raw deal. They're down for anything and they never let a cool experience pass them by. Even when it brings bad things, like crashing the F250, or an accidental OD, or a near-drowning.

These are guys I could totally see my younger self hanging out with. You get the sense that they got along with everyone, that they weren't exclusive pricks, that they were cool as fuck. And that makes me think Bud must be cool as fuck too. Like his characters, he's not pretentious or posturing, he's shooting from the hip and he's hooked me. There will be more Bud in my future. Let there be Bud in yours, too.

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