“I shrugged. I wished he’d known me from the West Bank, but that wasn’t it. Whenever I’d be over there for a show, the kids that hung around in front of Hard Times all tattoos with their homemade bikes, they just knew I wasn’t one of them. Like how I knew James wasn’t really one of them, was just pretending. But it didn’t matter.”
Anne Marie Wirth Cauchon, Nothing
James and Ruth both do this two-step around punk authenticity; neither one is entirely convinced they belong to the group they want to, each in a slightly different fashion, with Ruth feeling like an accessory of her prettier friend Bridget, jealous of her other friends, and James trying to prove he’s hardcore without having nothing. Each of them winds up pretending their way into what they want — which is how that works anyway, especially with an identity that’s chosen, that’s self-created — and Cauchon’s concentration on that single question, of membership and identity, makes these simple, spiteful characters work. Nothing isn’t a great big book (despite the claim of the absolutely terrible Kate Zambreno blurb on the back, calling it “the great American novel of the selfie,” which almost convinced me not to pick it up); it’s a very well-put-together, carefully-limited small book, that does nearly everything it sets out to do well.
December 04, 2013, 9:30am Comments