Never Mind Nirvana: A Novel
(Except from Never Mind Nirvana : A Novel)
Pete Tyler is thirty-six years old. Or, as he has been saying since his birthday last week, almost forty.
He takes off his suit jacket and settles into the hammock with a copy of Richard Ford's The Sportswriter, a Vintage paperback he bought in his twenties because of the artwork-put him in mind of an album cover. Though he did not finish the book then, he thinks he will now. He is closer to the narrator's age. Concepts such as loss and regret have taken on meaning for him.
Tonight he plans to stay in and read for a change. He likes the idea of retiring into clean sheets by midnight, waking up without a hangover, knowing that the pubic hairs in the bed are his own.
However, after a few minutes Pete becomes restless. He wants to at least finish a chapter, but he thumbs forward and determines there are seventeen pages left, too many. He abandons Mr. Ford for the company of Johnnie Walker.
Glass in hand, he pulls up a stool in front of the stereo system stacked on milk crates, loads a six-disc cartridge into the CD player, cues up the Replacements' Let It Be, circa 1984. Friday night is traditionally Resurrection Jukebox night. Pete and many of his cohorts believe there is nothing more important or moving than a good rock-and-roll song, but fortunately this belief goes mostly unspoken.
His loft is eighteen hundred square feet of bouncy acoustics. The walls are whitewashed brick, floors are scuffed and scarred hardwood. Four twelve-by-five unwashed windows look out on Elliott Bay.
The simple bass riff of "I Will Dare" vibrates into Pete's chest and he lights an unfiltered Camel and nods along to Paul Westerberg, "How young are you, how old am I, let's count the rings around my eyes . . ."
Pete is vaguely aware that he is a little long in the tooth to be fixated on albums with song titles such as "Sixteen Blue," "Unsatisfied," and "Gary's Got a Boner," but he does not spend much time thinking about this. Pete prefers living to thinking. He has pressed on with this attitude despite mixed results.
Let It Be is followed by R.E.M., Life's Rich Pageant, circa 1986, with "These Days," "Fall On Me," and "Cuyahoga." Then he pulls out Alice Cooper's Greatest Hits, circa 1975, and listens to "I'm Eighteen," "No More Mr. Nice Guy," and the chestnut "Teenage Lament '74."
Next to Cooper is the Clash, London Calling, circa 1979, and after "Lost in the Supermarket," Pete clicks forward to "Train in Vain," the unlisted last track-"you didn't stand by me . . ."
By nine-thirty Pete is on his third glass of Johnnie and Pearl Jam's first album, circa 1991. During Black he starts to feel nostalgia and loneliness kicking in, just what he was trying to avoid.
He has Triscuits and salsa for dinner, replaces the suit pants with Levi's, loses the tie, slips on his old penny loafers. On the floor near his futon is a copy of SPIN, which he kicks under the New York Times Book Review. He hopes to make contact tonight with a girl who will be impressed by the latter, but knows he will more likely find someone familiar with the former.
Even more likely, he will be coming home alone, but who wants to plan for that?
--From Never Mind Nirvana : A Novel, by Mark Lindquist. © May 2, 2000 , Villard Books used by permission.