Vincent’s debut novel explores the horrors of habitual substance abuse, casual philandering and “the rock and roll lifestyle,” with a new low on nearly every page.
Set in New Jersey in the late mid 1980s with flashbacks to the ’70s, the narrative follows aspiring musician Andre Sedano as he flits between romantic relationships, fails at jobs, prostitutes himself, distances himself from his family and takes enough drugs to make Iggy Pop sputter. With only two constants in his life—his ever-loyal best friend and occasional band mate, Mike Vella, and his on-again, off-again love, Lorraine DiLauro—Andre often bottoms out in jail or, most often, in the hospital. Though he always has the potential to make something of his talents, he constantly sabotages himself by getting arrested or overdosing. With precious little in the way of an overarching narrative, the book is best described as episodic as Vincent charts Andre’s fall from a fun-loving kid of privilege to an eventual victim of AIDS. The book is at its best when Vincent is patient enough to stick with one storyline for longer than a few pages, as when Andre and Lorraine move into a seedy hotel in Paterson, N.J., where Andre works as the receptionist. Andre struggles to make a relatively honest living and avoid drugs and booze, all while maintaining a stable relationship with Lorraine. Addiction, however, is always a threat. After the inevitable test of wills, the narrative shifts in a way that doesn’t advance the plot. Also, characters trend toward the stereotypical. For instance, Matt Bradford, a secondary character, is “a popular bad boy from the wrong side of town.” Even those tolerant of a cliché or two may be put off by the novel’s meandering prose and relentless insistence that to be wasted is to be interesting.
Needs a clearer sense of narrative with less reliance on well-worn phrases.