I’m Back, Bitches (CBR Review 18)

Title: Party of One
Author: Dave Holmes
Read more reviews at Cannonball Read

So it’s been just over three months since my last review. Not coincidentally, I started my new job just over three months ago. While I love it, it is a little bit of a time suck. I’m keeping up on my reading, but after 8 hours of sitting in front of a computer and talking to people, the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a computer at home. It was going to take a very special book to get me out of my reviewing slump, and I found it. Dave Holmes’ memoir Party of One is a very special book.

I saw someone mention it and looked it up. Each title was the name of a different song from a time in his life. I had a healthy Amazon credit (thanks, Apple!) and why the hell not, right? I got the book two days later and the first thing I noticed was that the cover felt luxurious. And then I open it up and what’s the epigraph? A wonderful, slightly obscure Frank Turner song. I mean, come on. This book had me hooked before I had even read a word.

Now, on the surface, Dave Holmes and I don’t have much in common. I’m not a gay man who grew up in the 80s and 90s and came in second on a reality tv competition. But I am a woman who grew up in the 80s and 90s, who came from a very Irish Catholic family, and who used music to try and find my place in this world. I was often scared, confused, depressed, turned around, and messed up. I hid parts of myself I was worried would get me in trouble. I repressed (did I mention Irish Catholic?) and held back, for fear of seeming too enthusiastic or nerdy. I looked for love in really fucked up places, convinced it was the best I could do. I felt this memoir in my bones.

Holmes has a wonderful dark sense of humor that punctuates even his most somber chapters. Tales of being forced out of the gay support group as college, of being pigeonholed in LA, of struggling to balance who thought he had to be with who he really was. I found myself giggling and nodding as I read about his life from St. Louis to Boston(ish) to New York to LA. I was astounded by what he’s accomplished through sheer willpower.

Of course, being a teenager in the late 90s, I tuned into TRL religiously after school each day. (I even got to be an on-air caller once, NBD). I remember the Wanna Be a VJ competition and being baffled that Jesse won instead of Dave. I always figured the powers that be also realized that was batshit and offered Dave a job so that they’d have someone who made sense, too. What I didn’t know is that Holmes worked his ass off to make connections and to get meetings and to keep showing up until they finally put him on air. How fucking amazing is that?

If anything, I wished the book had focused on his post-MTV life a little more. That part of his life is condensed into just a couple chapters at the end of the book (including a surfing shrink and a hallucinogenic party that sounds like hell on earth). I know most people would probably pick this up to get the dirt on MTV in it’s pop fueled heyday (and he doesn’t disappoint there), but I wanted to know more about how he came out the other side. One of my favorite bits was the two or three paragraphs devoted to Reno 911 (which cemented in my head that Tom Lennon is an incredible man).

Pick this book up. If you’re at all interested in pop culture, in self-discovery, in fucked up tales of self-discovery. If you’re interested in people. If you’ve ever felt like a freak just because of who you are. Read. This. Book.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars.

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