Considering the fact that I've been rhapsodizing about this book since about the moment I opened, it's probably about time I actually wrote the review.
So it's not a stretch to be standing on the wrong side of the yellow line giving serious thought to whether people would laugh if I threw myself in front of the F train. And that's the one thing that can't happen. People can't laugh. Even I deserve a decent suicide.
When Troy Billings meets skinny, semi-homeless, punk rock guitar prodigy Curt MacCrae on the subway platform he's contemplating whether throwing himself in front of a train would constitute a decent suicide. Soon Troy is buying lunch for his quirky, unreliable, dirty would-be savior. With a little lie, or so he thinks, here and there, Troy, the Fat Kid, finds himself being unwittingly propelled way outside his comfort zone and into Curt MacCrae's band. Thus begins Troy's journey to discovering that people aren't always what they seem including himself.
In Troy and Curt, Going has created a pair of all-too-human, realistic, and awesome characters. In the first person narration, Troy's voice is totally convincing. The story is full of his self-effacing wit, his considerable doubts and fears, his total befuddlement that this school legend of sorts, has, for some reason, chosen him, the Fat Kid to be his drummer. Troy barely sees himself as person, rather as the Fat Kid, and that someone considers him capable of doing something, anything other than huffing or jiggling or any of the rest of that "Fat Kid" stuff, catches him terribly by surprise.
And Curt. Curt is a brilliantly drawn character as well. Here's a kid that projects this self-assured street smart "I don't care what you think of me" sort of vibe, and yet, through Troy's eyes, despite Troy's total ignorance of it, emerges this scared, vulnerable, homeless kid for whom the only certainties in life are that things won't work out and that people can't be counted on. Troy needs someone to teach him his own worth, and Curt needs someone to be rock steady, and little does either of them know that that's what they need much less if they can be that for each other.
"That moment when you see through all the bullshit?" he says a moment later. "That's what punk music is all about. That's what anything great is all about. We're all just stuffing out faces, no matter what we look like, and people need to figure that out. When you can play that moment, you've got it."
This is a great story. It hooks you from the moment it begins. It's an unabashed look at really real characters. K.L. Going sets such incredible scenes and conveys poweful moments with few words, but not too few, and it all just works, and it definitely sees through all the bullshit.
I laughed, I cried, I loved it.