Up Nights by Daniel Kine – Expected Publication May 1st, 2013
Publisher: Ooligan Press
I guess I’m a bit behind on all the popular bookish things, because I just recently discovered what the term “New Adult fiction” means. It makes sense, I guess, in that “not a girl, not quite a woman” way. I’m in my late twenties and feeling pretty settled into adulthood, but I don’t remember seeking out books like those being published under the New Adult moniker in my stumbly post-college years. I was devouring every Chuck Palahniuk book I could find, first reading Franzen and desperately trying to figure out what was going on in House of Leaves (which I am determined to re-read).
So, this is my effort to highlight the work of a small press author for that wandering time between adolescence and adulthood, perfect for readers seeking something outside the New Adult catalog.
Up Nights begins with Francis knocking on the door of his friend Arthur’s room in Portland. The pair grew up together in the Midwest and spent their early twenties bouncing in and out of college and various cities. Arthur has just returned from a time in Mexico, where he left their friend Bill behind. Fueled by confusion, desire and dejection, the group travels throughout the country, weaving relationships with one another and a patchwork of people they meet along the way.
“Canada. Vancouver. I have to see someone there. I’ve been putting it off because it’s the only thing that I know I have to do.”
Unlike the impassioned desire of the New Adult genre, these are the themes I saw in so many of my friends in our early to mid twenties. It could have more to do with the time period and location, but reaching that age in the early 2000’s in Detroit had most of us scrambling to leave the Midwest, much like Kine’s characters. At the same time, however, I saw that same sense of procrastination. People wanted to go, but very few wanted to stay in the place they went.
Kine has a writing style that is well matched for this type of narration; short and choppy in dialogue, with more lyrical first person thoughts. Much of what Arthur concludes is quite poetic and shouldn’t be overlooked by the meandering details of the group’s journey, particularly in the beautiful ending paragraphs.