PARTY OF ONE by Dave Holmes


A Memoir in 21 Songs
Email this review


The former MTV VJ waxes nostalgic on his life in pop culture.

Writer, comedian, and TV personality Holmes, a writer-at-large for, is probably best known as the runner-up of MTV’s first Wanna Be a VJ contest, a competition he lost to the dervish known as Jesse Camp. The loss to Camp, which the author hilariously recounts with candid remarks about the victor, was a pivotal moment in Holmes’ life. He still earned a spot on MTV as an on-air personality, and the new career eventually led to a greater sense of self-acceptance that had eluded him his whole life. As a self-proclaimed outsider, Holmes’ burgeoning homosexuality as a teenager didn’t help his self-image considering his conservative upbringing in the Catholic community of suburban St. Louis. To help him cope, Holmes turned to pop culture. A cultural omnivore, he devoured the music his older brothers brought home from college, sang Top 40 songs with his parents, and watched a lot of TV. It wasn’t until a chance meeting with Amy and Emily of the Indigo Girls in his final year of college that Holmes finally received the advice he’d been longing for to help him come out: just trust yourself. Though Holmes peppers his narrative with witty asides and pop-culture references, the nostalgia factor is ramped up in the interludes between chapters, in which he provides a soundtrack for the current moment, a list of hunks that defined his adolescence, and the top 10 videos that defined MTV’s Total Request Live. One such aside is an amusing run-down of gossipy anecdotes of millennium-era pop stars and celebrities, featuring Kid Rock, Tara Reid, Puff Daddy, and more. Holmes is all charm, and his self-deprecating style makes his story relatable and engaging without feeling self-involved.

A hilarious and touching coming-of-age story that will strike a particular nerve among Generation Y.

Pub Date: June 28th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-8041-8798-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2016


NonfictionSILVER SCREEN FIEND by Patton Oswalt
by Patton Oswalt
NonfictionNERD DO WELL by Simon Pegg
by Simon Pegg
NonfictionTHE CLANCYS OF QUEENS by Tara Clancy
by Tara Clancy