A slacker soap opera, first published as a serial 'zinc through mail order, classifieds, and in Tower Record stores, that lacks the literary pretensions of Douglas Coupland's Gen-X sagas--and is much the better for it. Here, a straightforward narrative follows the parallel lives of ten or so twentysomethings in a small Virginia town. It's hard not to like a novel that begins by mocking Eric Clapton's unplugged ""Layla,"" the lite version retooled for aging rockers. Gomez's hip young crowd prefer the latest cutting-edge bands, including the homegrown sounds of Bottlecap, who record for Violent Revolution Records, the local company run by Dave, a UVA dropout and full-time waiter. Returning from a profitless tour of small clubs, Bottlecap is ready to bolt for a major label on the West Coast, which would be disastrous for Dave's shoestring operation. This panoramic fiction also encompasses the lives of Craig and Ashley, who met at UVA and now indulge in some infidelities while they sort out their long-term plans; and of Eileen, whose car breaks down in town, a nice place to figure out what to do about her recently failed romance. While working in a coffee-shop/bookstore, Eileen samples the local men, including Craig and Jess, the latter a co-worker who works out his sexual frustrations on the Internet. For comic relief of the Beavis and Butthead variety are Chipp and Randi, two buffoons who, determined to meet girls, start a 'zine--Godfuck-hang out with bands, and become famous. Musical preferences determine character in this world where ""cool"" rules and everyone thinks they're failures before they've really tried anything. As fortunes rise and fall, there's also lots of puking and much practical advice on the economics of frozen food. Despite the mandatory allusions to the Brady Bunch and the many icons of fringe culture, Gomez's debut is a harmless read. And there's enough material here for a season's worth of TV shows.