Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Pursuit of Cool by Robb Skidmore

The Pursuit of Cool by Robb Skidmore is the story of Lance and his college experience. Lance initially comes off as a privileged kid who expects everything to go his way with little effort. His parents have high expectations for his education and future career. Although it seems that Lance comes from a wealthy family, it becomes clear throughout the book that his parents have worked very hard to gain their current status and that paying for his schooling at a prestigious university does impact their finances.

Everyone, including Lance, seems to have high expectations for his future but Lance seems to be unable to translate those expectations into actions. He struggles to fit in academically and socially. Ultimately his search to find his place in the universe through his friendships and romantic encounters is played out against a backdrop of 1980s pop culture references and changing musical scenes while academics and career prospects falter in the background.

I had a difficult time connecting with Lance. While I understood his lost feeling at entering college and sympathized with his difficulty finding his place in social situations, I did not understand his inability to move forward academically. He always seemed shocked by his low grades despite skipping class and failing to take notes. He was surprised when he looked at a calendar and realized exams were coming up and he had yet to crack open the textbook. Lance seemed to live with this dream that everything was somehow going to work out for him even though he put no effort into his future. I think Lynn, Lance's ex-girlfriend, sums it up when she says, "I realized something while listening to you. It is something I think I was grasping at when we were dating, but never quite realized. How to say this? It's... that you're nuts."

All of the characters in the book are well developed even as they seem iconic in nature. Lance is defined by and through his relationships with others, making the reader wonder if he had connected with other characters if the story would have taken an entirely different turn. Ultimately, Lance has 410 pages of collegiate life experiences to "find himself" yet he seems to know little more about where he is headed than he does at the beginning of the story.

The Pursuit of Cool by Robb Skidmore (February 2012, Tmik Press) was provided by the author for review. It is available in paperback and ebook (affiliate links).

About the Author:

Robb Skidmore writes stories that entertain and inspire. His contemporary upmarket fiction (in between commercial and literary) takes a love of language and uses it to create richly original characters and intense, moving plots. His short stories have appeared in New Orleans Review, New Millennium Writings, South Carolina Review, Oasis, and Twelve Stories. His nonfiction has appeared in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Surfer (affiliate link), his ebook novella, can be found on Amazon. His debut novel is The Pursuit of Cool. It was a Quarter Finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest and has been awarded the "IndieReader Approved" badge by IndieReader.com.

He grew up in Charleston, S.C. and graduated with several degrees from Emory University. He has traveled to many far flung parts of the globe and once spent a year camping in national parks and traveling across America. He lives with his wife in Atlanta. You might find Robb drinking kombucha tea, listening to music on his iPod, blogging on his website at robbskidmore.com, or staring at the sky with great wonder and appreciation.

Note: All opinions presented in book and product reviews are my own. Opinions presented in posts authored by others reflect the view of the author only and not necessarily my view or opinion. If a product was given to me for review, the source of that product is noted in the post. Amazon and Book Depository links are affiliate links and I do earn a small amount for each purchase. Other affiliate links will be noted in the post.