Title: Something Pretty, Something Beautiful
Author: Eric Barnes
Publisher: Outpost 19
Date of Publication: June 1, 2013
How I Heard About It:I'm reviewing this as part of the book's extended tour over at TLC Book Tours. Also, Eric's going to be in San Francisco this Tuesday at Green Apple Books doing a reading and signing, so if you're in the area.... swing by!
Two Sentence Summary: Brian Porter narrates the intensely dark saga of his high school years, a four year period that wreaks of violence and destruction as his group of friends becomes tangled up with the seemingly sociopathic enigma Will Wilson. The plot weaves between present and past, toying with ideas of memory and perception and landing heavily on the fallout created from years of driving, at hundreds of miles per hour, headfirst into mayhem.
Things I Think: This is the kind of book you read with a constant grimace on your face, gritting your teeth so hard your jaw feels like it might explode by the time you get to the last page. Watching a group of teenage boys self-destruct under the tutelage of a peer pressure master isn't a new topic (think "Clockwork Orange" set in modern day Tacoma) but the eerie quietude, the smiling-ness with which the characters execute atrocity, makes "Something Pretty..." a disaster tale all its own.
What's more, Barnes plays with time in a way that makes us uncertain what we know, down to whether or not the characters themselves have been fabricated, drug-induced hallucinations, or if Brian Porter's memories are concrete and reliable.
Read this and feel better about the bullshit you pulled in high school. Read this and look around you and be glad you're not dead at the bottom of a gulch because of a dare, a prank, you couldn't refuse. I lost a night of sleep after I finished this, mostly feeling electric with relief to not be any of the people in this book.