Friday, October 10, 2014

If There's A Heaven Above

Andrew Demcak
JMS Books
Reviewed by Nancy
2 out of 5 stars


It's the early 1980's and Matt is on the cusp of adulthood in the flickering shadows of Los Angeles' Gothic music scene. He dives into a pulsating world of death-rock music, sexy musicians, and strung-out groupies in leather bondage pants and vampire makeup. Through the faded glamour and glittering whirlpool of alcohol and drugs, Matt moves from one good time to the next, searching for something more.

Then he meets Patch: shirtless, tribal-tattooed, wearing cut-off jean shorts still damp from an afternoon at the beach. Patch is a punk-rock Adonis who wears his dark hair spiked up and whose blue eyes are bloodshot from too much late-night fun. Patch doesn’t say much when they first meet, but his body speaks to Matt’s on a cellular level, pure chemistry. To Matt, Patch's tattoos tell him they are part of an invisible tribe, the night people.

But one night is all Matt gets with Patch before he disappears into the neon-washed streets. Matt sets out to find him again, sure Patch is "the One." Along for the ride are his friends Annie and Suzy, one straight, one gay. Wearing too much Aqua-Net and torn fishnets, the girls cruise L.A. in a white Mustang whose seat belts are perfect beer bottle openers. The ultimate Goths, they adore Siouxsie and the Banshees, paint their eyes with kohl, and vow to help Matt in his quest to hook up with Patch.

Will Matt be able to find Patch in L.A.'s drug-soaked clubs? Will one night be all he gets with the man of his dreams? If there's a heaven above, will Matt ever find it?

My Review


I so wanted to like this book. It took place during the mid-80’s, a time of my life I’ll always remember fondly. I had a job, a brand new car and my own apartment.

I loved my Jordache jeans.

I loved my very practical and stylish mullet.

I loved my denim jumpsuit.

And I loved Queen, Depeche Mode, U2, Kate Bush, Alphaville, Pet Shop Boys, Talking Heads.

What I didn’t love was that my younger brother was newly gay during a time of ignorance and irrational fear about the AIDS epidemic.

When I think about all the crazy shit I did then, it’s a miracle I’m still alive today.

So, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of Bauhaus or Love and Rockets, I had no reservations about spending time with three crazy Goth kids from Los Angeles – 18-year-old Matt and his best friends, Annie and Suzy.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t warm up to the characters at all. Their lives were boring, shallow, and pointless. Sure, this story explored sexuality, family relationships, drug addiction, and growing up, but it all was done so superficially. Knowing more of the characters’ feelings and thoughts rather than listening to their mindless banter would have helped me understand and empathize with them a little better.

While I enjoyed some of the memories this story evoked, I couldn’t stand being around Matt and his friends after a while. Reading this made me feel like the old woman yelling at the neighborhood kids to stay off the lawn and turn down that infernal noise they call music.

I might have tolerated this story better if it had been more skillfully written and not full of annoying similes.

“Suzy sped home like a wounded animal.”
“Her stepmother’s purse lay like an injured animal on the bed.”
“You’re as useful as a cunt full of cold piss.”
“The words came out like burning animals.”
“He grabbed it, flaying it open with his hand like a surgeon’s blade.”
“The lime bobbed in the bottle’s throat like an unkind comment.”
“The brightly ringing song rolled over us like a golden hoop.”

It’s a nice tribute to Rozz Williams and the American and English gothic rock artists of the 80’s, but I’m glad these kids are now out of my hair.