Dirtbags is a story about a twenty-something punk rock type girl from the sticks who is really bummed out that her brother died. She moves to the “big city”–in this case Vancouver — to run away from her pain or something like that. Anyway, she basically proceeds to get wasted on weed and booze, then later on in the story speed, and then she sort of levels out back to just weed and booze at the end. Although it is definitely a bummer when somebody close to you dies at a young age, this book does a terrible job of exploring that sort of thing.
The first part of this book kinda reminds me of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway but without the occasionally interesting drunk rants. For the most part, Dirtbags reads like an itinerary of drinking, drugging and fucking — interspersed with fairly superficial insights– the main character, Spider, gets up to. And every once and awhile, Spider will just be like, “oh shit my brother died” in a way that seemed conspicuously sledged-hammered into the text.
In the end, Spider meets a somewhat stable and cool older dude and gets her shit together. As you might guess, I was not a fan of this book. I found the dialogue to be redundant and largely superficial.
Overall, the quality of writing was pretty much on par with this review, which is to say, not good.
If you ever to want to read a GOOD book about somebody fucked up by a death in their family and dealing with it by going out and getting wasted for months on end, I recommend Bright Lights Big City by Jay McInerney. (Thom Bator)
by Teresa McWhirter. $20, 235 pgs, Anvil Press, P.O. Box 3008, Main Post Office, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3X5, anvilpress.com