Ontario writer and Exclaim! editor Jason Schneider — who co-wrote the essential Canadian rock music tome Have Not Been the Same with Michael Barclay and Ian Andrew Jack — has just released his debut novel, 3,000 Miles, on ECW Press. It follows a handful of Quebecois teens in the aftermath of Kurt Cobain’s suicide as they head toward Seattle in a beat-up car, selling meth to make ends meet. The protagonist is Andre, a rock star when he was in high school, who can’t get his life together. When his hero Cobain takes his life, Andre decides on this trip with the same end in mind. He brings along two friends, Rich and Serge, one who is into the plan, one who is not. The story is told from a variety of perspectives — every character gets at least one chapter.
Part road trip, part rock novel, part coming-of-age story, Schneider writes with an easygoing, realistic tone and a clear fondness for the music of the mid-’90s. It’s not yet another mediation of the worth of Cobain as a hero to a generation — he’s used as a jumping off point and then referenced briefly at key points throughout — though his influence on art continues to thrive. Schneider will read from 3,000 Miles on Friday, September 23, at the Khyber Club before out-of-towners The Stars Here and The Machines play.
This sample of the book comes from Chapter 8, “Montana, May 20, 1994,” when the boys have picked up a teen drifter, Joe, and their car has broken down in an America full of cowboys who don’t much care for French-Canadian longhairs:
In the growing twilight I start back up the street toward the garage. I’m keeping my eyes open, and soon after I spy two figures sitting on a bench at the town’s baseball diamond. They have their backs to me but I recognize their voices. I’m about to call out when I see the two shadowy heads slowly come together in what can only be a kiss.
I stand unblinking, 25 feet away, in shock, but withholding judgement. As their bodies press together I question my sanity. Andre has lost his, clearly. And Rich is probably going to get the shit kicked out of him. Where am I?
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