Bryan Charles, Author, "Grab on to me tightly as if I knew the way"


(Someone please submit a real bio) Bryan grew up in Kzoo/Galesburg and was a participant in the Kalamazoo phenom in early nineties. He later moved to NYC and wrote a memior-feeling novel about a teenager who would have been there called "Grab on to me tightly as if I knew the way".



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Book report by Jeff

I picked up Bryan's book after seeing his site listed here. It's about 10 bucks on Amazon and YOU should get it NOW.

It's a memoir-ish, ranty story of a young rocker graduating from high school and getting ready to go to WMU. The character tries to find love, he meets girls, explores his emotions about his family and friends, and plays in a rock band. I'm probably being lazy with these comparisons, but its written in modern style of a Holden Caufield or Henry Miller or Bukowski.

I really enjoyed this book. Bryan does a fantastic job capturing what its like to be a 17 year old in Kalamazoo at that time. Caustic, funny, confused, stupid, self-important, over emotional, arrogant etc. Oddly enough, he describes people that are almost categorically pure 'slackers' (the profile that young people had those days) in the sense of artists that are intellectually broad but have shitty jobs and disinterested views of society. His character does all the great things that a young kzooan should do: meet girls, drink, go to parties, go to band practice.

It's also fun to read about all the Michigan-specific stuff, such as the West Main graveyard, a party at Vine Street, East Campus, Club Soda. It's like when they show your street on the news. He mentions a few bands in the scene as well.

While there's lots of wild stuff in the book - drunkeness, teenage sex, cussin' - my favorite chapter was 99 where the lead character goes to Olive Garden with his mom and dad for his birthday.

The book is short and really fast-tempoed. A seasoned reader could finish it in one sitting.

A big congratulations to Bryan for a job wonderfully done. I don't remember ever hanging out with him but his jacket picture looks familiar (he's a bit younger than some of us, and I sometime like have a beer back then, so maybe I have met him and have forgotten. Maybe he hung out with Skippy?). He recommends Rollinghead's "Daddyhorse" in the back of the book, but hopefully he's picked up Dead River Drag's Scarlet by now.

One personal note: I was really at the 1989 Nirvana Club Soda show. I worked for WIDR then (doing the exact same show every week, but that's a different story). I went with Chuck Wood (the guitarist for Vine, who IS mentioned in the book) and he can support me on this. The guitarist (that we know now is Kurt Cobain) cut his finger during the set and needed a bandaid.