A mélange of journal entries, songs, and poems form the basis of this memoir of bohemian adolescence.
Reagan’s debut begins by describing his typical adolescent sense of bewilderment, but unlike most searching for meaning, he travels to Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam (among other destinations) to find it. Out there, he slurps noodles with his “lost apostles” and strums his guitar on the beach while Hindu pujas proceed in the background. His arrival in New York follows heartbreak; a journal entry describes him driving to his ex’s in Colorado to drop off a bag of her stuff, hoping for a final catharsis but finding her absent. He composes a note amidst a mosquito swarm, hoping the sentimental objects in the bag will work like so many daggers to the heart. In New York, he struggles to plan paintings for friends and family; they often appear on lists of obligations, but rarely as anything but names. Unexplained references to personal details occur regularly; characters often materialize for a page only to disappear for the rest of the book. Reagan also struggles with the city itself, and especially the vapid, drug-fueled, bohemian lifestyle of New York artists he meets. Interspersed between these journal entries are dozens of free-verse songs and poems, with subjects ranging from hangovers to global consciousness. Many of the poems appear to be raw drafts, and their wide-eyed vivacity sometimes degenerates into clichéd platitudes: “Our apple is bad / The world’s not in our eye.” Reagan struggles with finances, selling his work, and relationships, but his globe-trotting and Brooklynite lifestyle make his complaints often read as whining. For instance, he rants about his band mate’s stubbornness, despite later admitting that he’s been slacking, too. Some entries’ rambling style might appeal to youthful traveler types: “Bob Dylan’s your god and his good old friends and you want his life and you’re not giving in you’ll get it soon, it’ll be yours soon, everything that you ever dreamed.” But the references to Reagan’s inscrutable history, to-do lists, and melodramatic diary entries are too personal and too unpolished to allow this collection to transcend its source material.
Little more than a young man’s journal, chronicling years of personal hopes, troubles, and obligations.