I discovered Bardstown Road: A Novella by Andre Coma by accident and when I saw it was about Louisville’s Bardstown Road, I thumbed through it. I found all kinds of allusions to places and things that I know and like. All the joys of youth in one thin book.There’s Twice Told Coffeehouse, Tewligans, John’s Lennon’s Working Class Hero , Little Debbie snack cakes, and Big Red. There is also the growing pains of life; menial jobs, parents, roommates, and a messed up relationship. This book deals with life in a real and honest way.
The main character, Ben is a lonely, but happy, slacker. He sees no real point in buying into an adult world that’s phony. He’s not rebelling against the world like Holden Caulfield, but he just chooses not to fit. He’s a good, level-headed guy who seems more intelligent and insightful than the average 20 something. The girl is Jenny. She is Ben’s ex, and has just come back to Ben with some important news.
There are a variety of cool and odd characters that seem real to the point that I bet that I passed some of them on the street or met them in a bar or on the TARC bus years ago. With very few lines invested in each, he brings these people to life. The people he meets on the bus and the street are real. They have BO. They have mental problems. They bum money. Ben considers himself a “freak,” because he assumes this is how the world views him and his friends. He thinks of himself as being pretty normal, yet an outsider in the normal world. Will Ben survive in the real world? Will he get Jenny?
…and then there’s Melville’s Moby Dick . Ben begins it at the beginning of the book. Will he finish it by the book’s end? I’ve started Moby 5 or 6 times and I have yet to make it all the way through.