85A

85A

by Kyle Thomas Smith

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781935098492
Publisher: Publish Green
Publication date: 09/29/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 228
Sales rank: 1,030,177
File size: 554 KB

About the Author

Kyle Thomas Smith is a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Visit him at www.StreetLegalPlay.com or www.85anovel.com.

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85A 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
BestinBrooklyn on LibraryThing 4 months ago
85A explores a day in the life of Seamus O'Grady, an adolescent struggling with life in late 80s Chicago - yet its tenor is surprisingly current. The story flows in a way that is at once aggressive and lyrical. The city of Chicago, at the height of its segregation, features as almost a character in and of itself. This same spirit of segregation permeates every aspect of Seamus' home and neighborhood, where he reels as the resident misfit.Seamus' parents refuse to nurture their son's artistic sensitivity, but Seamus is convinced that running away to London will set free all his latent talent. As he prepares for his eventual leavetaking, he meets a black woman who epitomizes the sophistication and redemption that Seamus hopes a career in the arts will provide.While Seamus's quest may appear quixotic, at the end the author gives us a feeling that redemption is in the cards and this seemingly tough kid - who is gay in all but his own admission - will be able to get in touch with himself.The book is shot through with profanity, consistent with adolescent bravado. The story flows very well and the characters are well depicted.
BookNrrrd on LibraryThing 4 months ago
This coming-of-age novel features the realistic voice of protagonist Seamus O'Grady, a foul-mouthed, punk-obsessed 15-year-old who doesn't seem to fit in anywhere--not at home, not at his parochial school, and not even with the downtown punks he admires. It's a story that will be inevitably compared to A Catcher in the Rye--and though Seamus and Holden both rail against the "phonies" (or "poseurs" in Seamus's description), while not quite realizing that the label could be applied to them as well, Seamus has no desire to erase the f-word from the walls of the world. His story is liberally peppered with f-bombs and plenty of other curses, too. It's language that rings true for a kid who's angry, frustrated, and scared. The strength of this book lies in Seamus's realism. He's growing up in 1980s Chicagoland, with racist parents who don't understand him and virulently homophobic classmates who torment him. He yearns for diversity and culture, while still sometimes stumbling over stereotypes and language that one can imagine will make him cringe when he's a bit older. When he describes music as "gang-raping the room," this 30-something feminist woman wants to look him square in the eye and explain why that's a messed-up thing to say. Despite missteps like that one, I still felt that Seamus is overall a character worth rooting for, a kid who is deeply sensitive and vulnerable under his bravado. He really has been abused, bullied, and taken advantage of, and I wanted him to have a chance at something better. Ultimately though, 85A is not a new story, nor is it one told in a particularly innovative way. It's a tale of misunderstood adolescence that I probably would have loved when I was about 16. As an adult, however, I'm less impressed. Seamus's story is relatable, but a big part of the reason why is that it's far from unique.
brigitte64 on LibraryThing 4 months ago
I liked this book, it`s well written and in clear language. I coud really emphasize with 15 year old Seamus. The way people in school and at home treat him is incredibly bad, no wonder he acts weird. This shoud be on the reading list for high schools. (I think they know how to deal with swearing and homosexuality ). And parents shoud know about this too. The end gives room for a new book.I would recommend this book for everybody over 14 years of age.
hairball on LibraryThing 4 months ago
I loved this book--totally took me back to my teen tears: Catholic school, the music, the aggro, and even the Oscar Wilde play (punks don't get to be in the plays). Then there are the dreams of escape...I remember those, too. I'm going to find a disaffected youth and give this book to her or him. Maybe they'll at least get turned on to some new music, new books...I'm sure their parents will thank me. (Seriously, this could have been a fairly insubstantial book, but it was spot-on. I don't know how people without my perspective would like it--would they be like those people who hate Catcher in the Rye? I can't say. I used to go to Medusa's and Wax Trax during that period, and listen to those bands...so I believe I am biased.
andsoitgoes on LibraryThing 4 months ago
At first I was put off by the excessive use of f*** but after awhile it didn't bother me as much. The anger that Seamus is feeling I could see him reverting to constant profanity so it did fit the character. I liked the bus ride through all the different areas of Chicago. Thought the female main character, Tressa, didn't live up to her image in the end. An interesting look a a teenager with severe self-image problems,suffering from depression and not one person of authority willing to help him out. Even his therapist is of little help to him but certainly helps himself to him.
afyfe on LibraryThing 4 months ago
This book seems to build to an adventure, but it never quite gets there. The book all takes place one day starting with the main character waiting for his always late bus. Throughout this day his life changes direction, but before all that happens there are many flashbacks. These flashbacks give the reader an idea of what his life all about. It¿s hard to connect with the main character, which makes it tough to understand why he does what he does. Some of the other characters were very interesting and could¿ve been developed more. This book is a fairly quick read , but really slowed down at some points. Someone who can relate to the main character would enjoy this book.
Sean191 on LibraryThing 4 months ago
Well. 85A shouldn't be compared to The Catcher in the Rye and even claiming (as the jacket description does) that main character Seamus O'Grady is a hybrid of Caulfied and Johnny Rotten doesn't seem right either. Rotten held onto punk ideals as they served him and he did it pretty intelligently. If Sid Vicious was evoked instead, it might have held more weight since Vicious had a lot of punk rock charisma, little talent and bought into the persona enough that it killed him.I had a lot of problems with the book. First, it probably averaged the use of about six f***s per page. I don't have an issue with profanity, but when the narrator is using it like a nervous tic, it annoys me. If he used "um" or "like" in its place, it would have annoyed me just as much.Second, and this might be a non-issue if it's not the final version, there were at least half-a-dozen serious typos that took me out of the story. Even spelling Rob Base as Rob Bass...That leads to another issue... I'm not sure if the cultural references were all correct for the time. When Rob Base was mentioned, I think it was 1984 or 1985....I don't think he was out at that time. Meat Beat Manifesto was also mentioned, but not out until a year or two later. Most of the other punk bands were safe to throw in there though with the exception of mentioning PiL's "Happy" which was released in 1987. Maybe I'm wrong with what year it was supposed to be at the time in the book...but it was taking me out of things a little and if I'm not wrong, the writer should be fact-checking.Third problem - the dialogue and interaction with some of the characters was just over-the-top. The parents' dialogue sounded too-stilted, too outlandish. Finally, in general, the main character was unlikable. Maybe it's more personal on this account. I played in a punk band for a long time. We would try to open people's eyes to things going on in the world. Sure, they all felt misunderstood, felt that the world was against them. But when they put things in perspective and realized there were way larger problems - genocide in Sudan, sex trafficking of children even in the U.S., people starving on the streets in their own towns, it gave some of them something better to focus on. Unfortunately, some didn't get it and I saw a bunch of kids dying of drug overdoses over the years and some suicides. But there were some that made it and I even hear from them now and then and I'm thankful for that. And that really veered off the review...to get back to it....everything I said in the previous paragraph, the main character just didn't "get it." and it made it a little painful to read. Still, it did get some redemption at almost the bitter end which bumped it one half-star rating up in my opinion.Ultimately, I feel if this book was touted as the punk version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, it might have been a truer description.
blakefraina on LibraryThing 4 months ago
Torchwood heartthrob John Barrowman said in a recent interview with the UK¿s Daily Telegraph, "America has the most gay characters on television in any country but what I don't agree with is that a lot of them are all stereotypes." Truer words were never spoken. If one were to rely solely on images presented by the mainstream US media, it would seem that there¿s only one type of gay male - an effete, well-manicured, sarcastic fashionista who is equally well-versed in Broadway showtunes as he is in the films of Hollywood¿s golden age. But, y¿know, the world is a pretty big place and I suspect there are a lot more colors in the rainbow flag than just shocking pink.And that¿s where 85A, Kyle Thomas Smith¿s fantastic novel with its irrepressible protagonist Seamus O¿Grady, comes in.This is a whirlwind of a book about a disaffected young punk riding the bus one wintry day in Chicago ruminating on his miserable existence and making big plans for his future. Seamus is no stereotype. It¿s 1989 and, forget Judy Garland, he worships at the altar of Johnny Rotten and hopes to be a playwright in London as soon as he¿s old enough to strike out on his own. His only two social contacts are his best friend Tressa, a tough and sexy bi-racial girl equally at home listening to Mozart or Social Distortion and his "therapist" Dr. Strykeroth a creepy middle aged man with whom he maintains a rather disturbing relationship.While it would be easy to compare this to Catcher in the Rye, because certainly there are similarities in structure and tone, Seamus is very different than Holden Caulfied in that his problems are more serious than merely a fear of growing up. And while those problems cover the typical catalogue of woes that plague teens in every other LGBT coming of age story - homophobic bullies, unsympathetic teachers and religious zealot parents, the character himself is totally unique.The language is gritty and realistic. Smith perfectly captures the rambling, rude voice of an adolescent punk. And you don¿t have to be gay to relate to this character, by any means. Anyone who was a misfit in high school should be able to see themselves in his desperate desire to reinvent himself with a cool new persona. I found myself cringing with recognition when Seamus feigns a cockney accent to impress his big crush only to be met with derision and mockery by the boy¿s friends. Very funny, but just a little bit heartbreaking. Like so much of youth.I only have a couple of issues with what is otherwise a wonderful book. As with many other LGBT novels, I found the antagonists were portrayed with too heavy a hand. Seamus¿s parents, for instance, might have been more effective if the characterizations were a bit more subtle and less clichéd. And a lengthy tract addressing how arts education might encourage marginal students to take more of an interest in their studies, sounded less like a fifteen year old reprobate and more like the author sharing his opinions. But, all in all, this is a refreshingly different novel from a talented writer who I intend to keep my eyes on.
megtall on LibraryThing 4 months ago
Wow, what an intense coming-of-age novel! I loved it! yes, there is profanity, but there is also a really genuine protagonist that more than makes up for it. I will definitely recommend this book!
goldnuggets on LibraryThing 4 months ago
Kyle Thomas Smith has tamed the savage teenage beast. Managing to peer under the facade of the awkward, lonely teenager we all know something about, displaying all the fear and loathing of our generation through Seamus's hopeless NY dreams. You know there's no way this kid's gonna make it, but we're with him until the end anyways....
sixteendays on LibraryThing 4 months ago
I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would, since I don't normally read books of this genre.
jennmaine on LibraryThing 4 months ago
Seamus O'Grady lives the kind of life I sometimes envied in the 1980's, when I was his age and trapped in the outer suburbs. He rides a city bus to school and catches glimpses of Chicago's active punk artistic scene and hangs out in clubs and coffee-houses, hoping to be noticed and accepted some of the time, or just to hide in quiet peace the rest. As we learn more about Seamus' life, however, any envy falls away. Expulsion from Catholic school looms, his parents are physically and verbally abusive (and weakly drawn characters) and his therapist is maneuvering him into a sexual relationship. This is a gritty coming-of-age story, told in Seamus' obscenity-heavy diatribe. Older YA's will appreciate the honesty of this novel even as adults can be grateful to be well past fifteen.
Prop2gether on LibraryThing 4 months ago
Touted by the editors as a cross of Holden Caulfied with Johnny Rotten, this coming-of-age novel fails to meet that mark. Seamus O' Grady is fifteen, takes the 85A to school every day, a Catholic school which he is just about to fail out of (to the shame of his parents and brother), and seeing a psychiatrist who is making moves on him. Seamus has a girl friend whose life is a broad and liberated as his own is circumscribed and limited. The novel, with flashbacks, is essentially about one winter's day which starts out with Seamus waiting for the eternally late 85A. The gutter language was offputting, but it's part of Seamus as he sees himself, and eventually can be ignored for the puffery it is in the story. I found myself intrigued with Seamus, but the story was often to cliched to be as gripping as it is meant to be by both the author and the publisher. As a teen reader, it would be okay, but it is not equal to long-standing genre classics. Finally, the typos were so, they detracted from the reading. Hopefully the publisher will have a proofreader correct them before this book is released.
PaulZak on LibraryThing 4 months ago
I'll start by saying this is not my typical genre and the often profanity-laden dialogue was a bit jarring at first. But it wasn't long before I became engrossed in the thoughts and actions of the main character, Seamus O'Grady. Seamus is a loner often lamenting his past efforts (and failures) at making friend, or dreaming of a new life across the pond, in London. The only exception is his best friend, Tressa. Yep I immediately felt a bond with him; I began to care about his dreams and wince at the ongoing verbal and physical assaults he experiences while attempting to live his life on his own terms, as an individual. His life is a startling look back to the teenage years, making it's easy to relate to his frustrations and actions no matter how far beyond those earlier years you are presently. Ultimately, I judge a book by how much I missed each visit to read a few more page and how deeply the story and characters stick in my memory once I've turned the last page. I miss Seamus!
jrlcnyc More than 1 year ago
85A explores a day in the life of Seamus O'Grady, an adolescent struggling with life in late 80s Chicago - yet its tenor is surprisingly current. The story flows in a way that is at once aggressive and lyrical. The city of Chicago, at the height of its segregation, features as almost a character in and of itself. This same spirit of segregation permeates every aspect of Seamus' home and neighborhood, where he reels as the resident misfit. Seamus' parents refuse to nurture their son's artistic sensitivity, but Seamus is convinced that running away to London will set free all his latent talent. As he prepares for his eventual leavetaking, he meets a black woman who epitomizes the sophistication and redemption that Seamus hopes a career in the arts will provide. While Seamus's quest may appear quixotic, at the end the author gives us a feeling that redemption is in the cards and this seemingly tough kid - who is gay in all but his own admission - will be able to get in touch with himself. The book is shot through with profanity, consistent with adolescent bravado. The story flows very well and the characters are well depicted.