Grab On to Me Tightly as if I Knew the Way
By Bryan Charles
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780060882983, 240pp.)
Publication Date: June 2006
A wise, bighearted, and hilarious look at one teenager's life by a remarkable new voice in contemporary fiction
It's 1992, and as Vim Sweeney deals with the recent end of his high school career and the uncertainty of his future, America shares his angst. In Seattle, Kurt Cobain reeks of teen spirit. In Washington, George Bush (the first one) has just finished rattling his saber at Saddam Hussein. And in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Vim is trying to put off adulthood and all that comes with it, whatever that is, for as long as he can. He's already juggling guitars, girls, and a long-absent biological father who's suddenly making noise about Wanting to Be Involved. And he still can't convince his friends why local schoolboy hero Derek Jeter is bound for obscurity.
Grab On to Me Tightly as if I Knew the Way traces Vim's stumble toward adulthood as he comes to terms with his parents, balances friendships and infatuation with varying levels of success, and accepts that the things he thought would last forever probably won't. Generous in spirit and laugh-out-loud funny, here is a novel that introduces a tremendous new talent and deftly captures the alternately amusing and harrowing process of holding on until you find your way.
Bryan Charles was born in Michigan and lives in Brooklyn. His writing has appeared in Open City and the anthology Before and After: Stories From New York. This is his first novel.
“Poetic...will invite comparisons to Nick Hornby, but let it be said that Charles does it his way.”
-Booklist (starred review)
“As brave and funny a debut as I’ve read in a long time.”
-Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land
“Shoots into you like a bolt of electricity, sparking all kinds of excited feelings about art and life and writing.”
-Thomas Beller, author of The Sleep-Over Artist and How to be a Man
“Charles will get inside your brain and make sense of it for you once and for all.”
-Elizabeth Crane, author of When the Messenger is Hot and All This Heavenly Glory
“Funny and unpredictable...(Charles) proves impressively adept at capturing the inchoate ache of adolescent longing.”