Friday, 17 July 2015

#42 - "Jersey" by Steven Thomas Dykes

Not even Newark


By Admiral Fartmore & Beau Dashington

(book submitted by a Reader)

Editor's Note: Beau Dashington and I, Admiral Fartmore, did it together. Err, I mean we wrote it together. We edited it together, too. This review, I mean. We also had sex.

When one engages in writing a shitty blog, there are few things as rewarding as when you get a message of support from one of the 3 or 4 people who actually read the shit you write. And so, it was with a great deal of excitement that we got an email from our new friend Diefenbaker [name changed to protect identity] suggesting we try reading a book called “Jersey”, by Steven Thomas Dykes. He warned us “this book will hurt you.” Sounds right up our alley. But what kind of book is this? Here is how the author describes it:

“Jersey” is the depth of the darkened heart, making their relationship told with the narration of Scott Trejo, along with the sprint to the border after complete oblivion the tale that told on the train that brought me to Mexico for my first day.

I have literally no idea what that means. This quote is from one of the two introductions written by the author which are not part of the actual story. Between them, we learn that the book is based on the author’s hometown of Topeka, Kansas. He considers the book to be the "Romeo and Juliet of the 21st Century." That’s quite a claim; to be the heir-apparent to perhaps the most celebrated tale of tragic romance ever produced by Western culture, and perhaps the most famous in the entire world until Titanic was released. Let's find out if he lives up to it.

The book is filled with characters with pretty implausible names like Pablo Adams and Terrence, as well as a dope-dealer called Samson. Yes, Samson - an apparently accidental reference to the evil drug dealer from Dave Chapelle's 1998 stoner classic, Half Baked. However, the two characters of concern are Scott (a teenage boy and a clear idealized author-insert or "Marty Stu") and Jersey (a teenage girl he falls in love with). The writing is... well… not very good. Here is a sample sentence:

"Damn…There is a plethora of honeys at this party,” Terrence said with a lustful tone.

A plethora of honeys.

But what about the romantic aspirations of the book? Does it move the heart and inspire the soul? The narrator is Scott, our Romeo, who at 13, heads to a party in a field. Enter Juliet, her first words in this play on star-crossed lovers: "Do you have a joint?" Romeo Scott responds in the negative, to which Juliet Jersey replies poetically, "Well…. Shit!"

After that brief philosophical exchange, Jersey's phone rings. Her father has had a heart attack. She asks Scott (who she just met, even though they are in all the same classes) to take her to hospital. For some reason the hospital is refusing to let any caretakers see their patients, which must be a violation of some kind of medical ethics. Jersey asks Scott to come to her house and hold her all night long. And so he does. And they do. But they don't pork each other. It is around this time that they inexplicably change in age from 14 to 17, even though after the age jump they have still only known each other for three months.

“I need my lawn mowed, at least half of it”, I spoke in code. The meaning was that I needed a half ounce of weed as soon as possible.

Not only is this code ridiculous, who the fuck would only ask for half their lawn to be mowed?

The narrator informs us that to understand Jersey, we must look into her past. And so he he tells us a horse-origins story about Jersey's pet stallion, Prince. Anyone who follows the Piece of Shit Book Club™ knows that we take horse matters very seriously. So this better be good. In the back-story, Prince kills a rider, but gets a second chance at life after it is adopted by Jersey. Interesting... but what could this horse have to do with the star-crossed lovers? Let's read on.

I looked back into her eyes, saying "Good... just enjoying another night out in the woods... drinking from kegs and getting high", I answered trying to keep my cool. "I know what you mean," she laughed.

Pictured: 13-year-olds "keeping their cool."

In fair Topeka, Kansas, where we lay our scene, Jersey gets hooked on pot, and ends up crashing her car a couple of times. This happens in literally two chapters in a row: she gets stoned, she crashes, she calls Scott for help. For some inexplicable reason, she starts dating Jason, some random guy, even though she and Scott are in love. Jason gets her hooked on coke, and she goes into rehab. When Scott visits, she tells him, “They are putting me on so much medication for bi-polar disorder that this is the first time I have felt any emotion.” I can tell you, in case you aren't already aware, that this is not how it works. We're talking about a severe mental illness, not a case of the Mondays. And lithium doesn't give you extra emotions. It just doesn't.

I can only close my eyes and imagine the day Jersey and I were the thickness of glue and cohesive enough to be permanent……

We get it, the guy spilled a lot of glue thinking about this girl.

As it turns out, Jersey's addiction to pot is all Jason's fault, so Jersey and Scott decide to kill him. They lure him to a barn, where Jersey shoots him in both kneecaps and in the back of the head with a shotgun. I don't want to be too graphic, but this is what happens when you shoot a watermelon with a shotgun. [WARNING: one watermelon was harmed in the making of this video]. Now, clearly, the author isn't really aware of what a shotgun actually does to a human body, because even though Jason has been decapitated and lost both legs, he is still speaking. So Scott cuts off his eyelids. The torture continues, as the author draws generously from all his favourite movies. Jason has his ear cut off, and Scott speaks into it (à la Reservoir Dogs). He then ties Jason to a chair, and hits his toes with a hammer (à la Payback). A few of the other torture techniques are reminiscent of Saw and Hostel and others.

Realizing they are now going to be wanted for a completely unnecessary kidnap, murder, theft, extortion, and torture, Jersey and Scott decide to part ways, and they never see each other again. And that's it. The absurd violence comes out of absolutely no where, and then boom, story's over. Except for the 2-page epilogue, which states that Scott died in Mexico 53 years later of cancer.

"Thanks," I told him, hanging up the phone while turning up the radio. 'Shorty Wanna Be A Thug', by Tupac Shakur played as we cruised to our spot we called "Viet Nam."

"You got blunts?" she asked me.

"Yep." I nodded with a grin, for our ganja ravings were met with the richest of palates.

An actual picture of "Viet Nam." Jesus Christ, Kansas just makes fun of itself.

Shakespeare, this book is not. It's not even bunk-speare. If Shakespeare were New York, this book wouldn't even be Newark. It'd be somewhere worse, like the shitty part of Mogadishu, or Kansas. If Jersey has any use, it's as a reminder that yes, literally everyone was a loser in highschool, and no, that first love of yours isn't worth writing about. Steven; we feel your pain. To love and lose is one of life's great tragedies, like dropping your last blunt-paper into a puddle. But teenage crushes are best left in high school where they belong.

But not everyone would agree with us, especially not the sole reviewer this book has on Amazon.

If only her horse had written the fucking book, then.


Admiral Fartmore & Beau Dashington

No comments:

Post a Comment