» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

October 6, 2005
In a magazine like Found, where actual lost-then-discovered "stuff" (birthday cards, personal notes, and photos) are displayed in print, irony and wit are tied to the very origin of the publication. From the standpoint of creating the magazine it seems like much of the work is already done - the subjects already exist in their naturally odd form, it's just a matter of finding and compiling the best material to make Found interesting.

The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas has Found creator Davy Rothbart in a different creative place altogether. In this his first fiction novel, Rothbart offers a collection of eight short stories in which he captures the mixed essence of irony, heartbreak, and beauty of everyday living. The book is 162 pages and, although more extensive and detailed than any magazine published under the Found title, it is still a quick read as far as the contemporary novel goes. The short stories range in length anywhere from eight to 36 pages long. Most important, it never feels as if Rothbart is stretching or oversimplifying his topics; he forms them at his own pace with details that are intricately personal to character development but also necessary to the plot.

Each story is a narrative from the viewpoint of a seemingly simple but eventually-revealed-to-be complex young male. There is an overall voice that ties each piece together - Rothbart's balance of colloquialisms (i.e., "'Fuck that dude! I don't give a fuck. It's a free country, dog.'" from A Black Dog), relevant social references (i.e., an Aimee Mann show at the House of Blues…Jewel Drug on Fifty-fifth Street…a cashier from Reckless Records), and an overall excellently descriptive narrative style ("a battalion of Puerto Rican kids raised my car on a rickety lift and scrambled around underneath, tinkering, tearing rust loose, and welding on new parts with a screaming torch that sent blue sparks scattering across the floor."). Even in the moments of stories where Rothbart is speaking from the most pathetic of his characters, he manages for them to come off as naturally tragic and unfortunate human beings. In How I Got Here (the homework assignment of a young prison inmate, telling how he became incarcerated) the entire chapter is written in CAPS-LOCK, with vulgar language and a punctuation style that would naturally come from someone immature and most likely undereducated. The story feels like it should be in Found, a letter misplaced in the mailing system and somehow located by Rothbart.

Aside from How I Got Here, none of the other chapters have anything in common with Rothbart's magazine publishing style. Lie Big is about two close friends who eventually break apart because of the one's compulsive and damaging lies. The premise alone is compelling enough but once ideas of tragic love and death are introduced, the story becomes emotionally personal and endearing.

The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas, the book's title story, contains the collection's most heart-wrenching plot. A confused couple stumbles upon an innocent boy with big dreams, and soon find out that the boy's fate, as well as his family's, is tied to suffering. Soon the narrator realizes his problems aren't all that important, and the way Rothbart illustrates the characters' desolation ("…dreaming lonely impossible dreams, wishing on 747s they took for stars.") is poetically wonderful.

A Black Dog, Neverglade, Maggie Fever, and Elena tell of four different unique main characters involved in tricky living predicaments and who all eventually find themselves in situations of confusing love. As an author, Rothbart does an excellent job of crafting stories that seem remarkably ironic while at the same time of relevance to the common reader.

The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas works well because it combines elements of tragedy and irony that any reader can become sympathetic towards. Davy Rothbart is an upcoming writer with a great youthful style, and also an appreciation for the basic techniques and stylistic choices of good writing.

SEE ALSO: www.foundmagazine.com
SEE ALSO: www.simonsays.com

Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other articles by Josh Zanger.



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