Folks, recently one of my longest-awaited moments in music came to fruition: Pete Wentz, Fall Out Boy bassist and songwriter, finally decided to release his full-length prose narrative Gray. He first mentioned it seven years ago, and now we finally have our hands on the book.
With the recent reunion of Wentz's band, the book could not have come out with better timing. But truly, nothing could excite me more than reading the masterful writing of one of the greatest lyrical masterminds of our time. But could the novel possibly live up to the brilliance of songs penned by Wentz such as "Sugar We're Goin' Down," "I'm Like a Lawyer the Way I'm Always Tryng to Get You Off" and "Thnks fr th Mmrs?"
Unfortunately, to quote the Fall's "Cruiser's Creek," we only have this excerpt. It would be wrong for me to judge a book based on reading only an excerpt, especially when I could very easily simply buy the book, but that wouldn't be nearly as easy and fun.
After all, if a book can't sell you with a choice excerpt, why bother reading it? So here we go, everyone. Prepare yourselves for writing the likes of which has not been seen since the heyday of Hemingway. Or "Hmngw," if Wentz would prefer.
The bus crawls into Dallas, but it doesn't matter. All the skylines look the same now. It's raining again, because the rain clouds follow me wherever I go. As usual, I don't have an umbrella. Life. I am not prepared for any of this.
Well, we're off to a great start, beginning our excerpt in Texas. Unfortunately for Wentz, he lives a hell paralleled only in the lyrics of one Steven Patrick Morrissey. Without an umbrella, all hope is lost for our hero. At least those persistent clouds that apparently follow our narrator give us an explanation for the title of the book.
Yawn. Squint. Dark glasses. I hate the way the sky looks at me, as if it knows everything I've been up to. I sit up in my bunk, in my underwear and sunglasses, listen to the motor hum and the miles whistle away beneath my feet.
I completely feel Wentz in this passage. Don't you just hate it when the sky looks at you funny and reminds you of all your darkest secrets, like the fact that action verbs do not a complete sentence make?
I imagine the bottom of the bus falling away, me hitting the ground running, burning north up 35, cutting east on 44 at Oklahoma City, rocketing across great distances, jumping onto 55 in St. Louis, just a blur now, a bottle rocket headed north, past Springfield, Peoria, Lexington, Chenoa, Pontiac; then Chicago looming large on the horizon, me headed right for the heart of it, now supersonic, Kedzie Ave, Ashland Ave, Chinatown flashing by, digging my heels into the asphalt, making sparks fly, skidding to a stop on Lake Shore Drive, standing there in my underwear and sunglasses, my heels cooling in the morning light. Maybe a scarf wrapped around my neck for warmth.
Oh, what would they say about me then? I laugh about this to myself. I am fucking crazy.
Our fearless narrator Wentz really wants us to take in that image of him in his underwear and sunglasses, seeing as how he chose to remind us in this paragraph of what he had just told us literally one sentence ago.
I mean, I know that second sentence was really exceedingly long, but is this the attention span Wentz believes we have? Oh well, I guess it's just part of his wackiness, like the shocking image of wearing a scarf. Crazy Pete, they call him.
At this point, I'm going to skip ahead a little bit, because this excerpt is terribly long itself.
"What the fuck are you doing?" asks the Disaster who is inexplicably awake (or, more accurately, hasn't yet gone to sleep). He's staring at me as if I were covered in blood or something, and I don't understand why, until I remember that I'm sitting in my underwear, legs dangling out from my bunk, with a pair of $300 sunglasses on my face.
I may, in fact, be scarred by this mental image of Pete Wentz in his underwear and sunglasses for the rest of my life. But from a literary standpoint, it's all necessary to sell just how crazy he is, and for that I forgive him for reminding us of it constantly.
We call him the Disaster for all the reasons you'd expect. He's always looking for something to ruin. He is a man of few words... a man of action. He has no feelings of remorse, no regrets. He is everything I am not. He's pretty much my hero.
Hey, Pete, it's cool and all how much you like this guy, but I think your idol may be a sociopath. Just saying. I'm looking at the American Medical Association definition right now (so I could take a break from this breathtaking story) and I'm pretty sure he fits.
In the rare instances when the Disaster sleeps, he does it less than three feet away from me on the tour bus. He's always beating off, and he doesn't make any attempts to hide it, mostly because he doesn't care enough to.
... Aaaand I think we're done here, folks. If these details of the novel have tantalized you as much as they tantalized me, Gray is in stores now. Just based on this excerpt, it is a literary tour de force from the voice of a generation.
Or maybe not, I don't know. I need to cleanse my mind of these images now. One thing is for sure here: This has been a great advertisement for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind technology.
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