COWBOY ANGST by Jasen Emmons


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 Emmons achieves a sweet, laid-back tone in this debut novel, but he can't overcome the ennui inherent in yet another story of a member of Generation X who can't decide what to do with his life. Sapping matters further is the fact that Dennis McCance's next move is clear when the novel opens. After playing drums in a country and western band called Cowboy Angst in college, he gave law school a try. He didn't like it much, and now he's headed home to Montana for the summer to tell his parents that he's dropped out. In the meantime, Montana Wildhack (nÇe Janey Bowman), the lead singer for Cowboy Angst, wants McCance to join her in Austin, Tex., and start a band. The two have always been close friends, but it's obvious that there could be something more between them. The question is: What on earth is holding McCance back? He makes some vague references to the instability of the music business (Wildhack's father has made her solemnly swear not to wait tables after she turns 30); but since he loves his drums and Wildhack and little else, his indecision feels forced. Some red herrings are thrown into the mix: Susan Hall, a woman McCance has seen on and off when he's home in Montana, is back in town; and the tense relationship between him and his slightly weird deputy sheriff brother shakes things up a little. But there is always the sense that Emmons is dragging his feet. Too many anecdotes--including a tasteless one in which McCance recounts how he and a high school friend amused themselves on the band bus by playing ``dick tag, in which you had to touch people with your member without getting caught''--slow things down, and a final dramatic twist adds little except length. Emmons has a deft, casual delivery, and his hero's voice is seamless, but ultimately these feel wasted on a lackluster story.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-56947-021-9
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1994