The Latecomers Fan Club
by Diane V. Mulligan
What is it about guys with guitars in their hands that makes them so irresistible, even when they are obviously self-centered jerks? If Abby and Maggie could answer that question, maybe they could finally get over Nathaniel. There’s just something about him when he picks up his guitar and gets behind the microphone, something that makes sensible women act like teeny-boppers instead of rational, self-respecting adults.
Abby was first sucked in by Nathaniel’s rock ’n roll swagger four years ago when a drunken fling turned into a series of drunken hook-ups that became something like a relationship. Now, as New Year’s Eve promises a fresh start, she wants to believe he’s finally going to grow up and take their relationship seriously.
What does Nathaniel hope the new year will bring? An escape from the disappointing realities of his life. He’s thirty-four years old and he’s barely making ends meet as an adjunct philosophy professor, which was always only a back up plan anyway. Nathaniel's real goal was always to make his living as a musician, but his band, The Latecomers, broke up a couple of years ago, and he hasn’t picked up his guitar in months. When he decides to spend the holiday with some high school friends instead of hanging out at the bar where Abby works, he gets the happy surprise of reuniting with his long-lost friend Maggie. Newly divorced, Maggie has just moved back to her mother’s house to regroup.
Nathaniel and Maggie were supposed to be the ones who left Worcester forever to conquer the world. He was going to be a rock star. She was going to take the world of art by storm. He’s never gotten farther than Boston, and her best effots only left her broke and heartbroken. As they ring in the New Year together, Nathaniel decides it’s time to take control of his life and to start making his dreams come true. He thinks the first step will be easy. All he needs to do is break up with Abby and finally admit his feelings for Maggie. But the new year has more surprises in store, and nothing is ever as simple as it seems.
Read an excerpt:
Of all the possibilities Nathaniel had imagined for New Year’s Eve, he never could have predicted that he’d be kissing Maggie Monahan next to a fire pit in his friend’s backyard at midnight. When he had told Abby that no one interesting would be at the party, he believed it. He thought he would go, hang out with kids he’d known since infancy, get shit faced, and pray the New Year would be better than the old one. He knew Abby was pissed that he had chosen his friends over her, and he had to admit, the scene at Zack’s was likely to be pathetic, hardly a step up from the Watering Hole. But his friends were there, his real friends who looked up to him, who were impressed by his stories about teaching college in Boston, who still believed he was someone special even though his big, starry-eyed dreams had not come true.**My thoughts**
At least Abby had to work so he didn’t have to fight with her about his plans. She always wanted to come with him to these things, but he never let her. His friends joked that he must be embarrassed by them. Either that or she was imaginary. The truth: He was embarrassed by her. If they met her, they’d know that however great his stories about his awesome metropolitan life, he was just like them—stuck. Sure, he got out of Worcester, but he wasn’t living his dream, and Abby was proof. It wasn’t that she was awful—she was cute enough, nice enough—but she was so ordinary, so boring. She had no ambition. She was perfectly happy buying clothes at J.C. Penney, and her dream vacation was a week at Disney World. She wasn’t the love of his life. She was the one he settled for. And thank God she wasn’t with him tonight, because he couldn’t take his eyes off of Maggie.
I was drawn to the blurb, because I am a long time groupie who has dated her share of musicians. Yes, there is a pull to them that no one can quite explain. It can be good and it can also get us into trouble.
I found myself relating more to this book than I originally thought, because I am also approximately in the same age group as these characters, and am also unmarried. It's kind of a nice change to read about people in my own age group and situation for once! The characters and their situations seemed very real. The characters are flawed, yet have plenty of redeeming qualities. I felt like I had either been in their shoes, or had been very close with someone else who had been in their situations. I could see this story happening in real life.
Another interesting aspect of this book is how the story was told from different characters' points-of-view. Usually when this happens, each character tells his or her own story in first person. Mulligan chooses instead to use third person limited. It helped you really feel like you were an observer in their lives. While voice and perspective changed, you were able to keep track of what was going on and how everyone felt.
This is the second of her books that I have read and enjoyed. I look forward to more by this author.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Diane Vanaskie Mulligan began writing her first novel, Watch Me Disappear, during an after-school writing club she moderates for high school students. She published it in August 2012. It was a 2013 Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book Award Finalist in the YA category. Her second novel, The Latecomers Fan Club, will be released in November 2013.
Diane holds a BA in American Studies from Mount Holyoke College and a Master’s degree in teaching from Simmons College. When she isn’t teaching or writing, she’s the managing editor at The Worcester Review and the director of The Betty Curtis Worcester County Young Writers’ Conference You can also find her occasionally strumming her guitar and singing at various bars in central Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband.