Monday, January 05, 2009

The Orange Spotlight

Nami Mun Miles From Nowhere (Penguin/Riverhead, January 2nd)

Miles From Nowhere is a dark and diligent look at a life I had never contemplated, but has always lurked in the distance. It all seems so simple and frightening and just one tragedy away. As the rate of the unemployed rises and the rate of foreclosures rises, it seems probably that the rate of the homeless will rise as well. This is the story of a homeless teen who has lost her parents, not to death but to insanity and indifference. What comes of this abandonment is a journey of misguided faith and faux-friendships, and a process of learning how to live a life that no one deserves to live. Taking place in Brooklyn in the '80's, the main character Joon bounces from shelter to bus stops to brothel and further into the darkness of the streets.

The dominant theme of this novel is innocence abused and an evolution into guilt. In a recent interview, author Nami Mun described guilt as "the policeman of emotions". While living on the streets and throwing all reason and understood values away, the emotions of a teen are bound to run wild. That experience is one that Nami shares with her character Joon, but that is where the comparisons end. Nami herself lived in the streets as a teen, and held many random and varied jobs before making a commitment to writing on January 1st, 2000. Now in 2009 her debut novel, Miles From Nowhere, was released on January 2nd. To hear Nami talk about her need and urgency in writing will make you want to read closer and live deeply. Here are her hopes for her readers, "I want them to understand that the homeless guy holding out his hand and the addict nodding off on the bus and the sex worker in the back seat of a car, and even the murderer locked up in prison were all children once". When boiled down that is the magic contained within this novel, it is a stark reality shown through the eyes of a child.

Snowsera Fictions (Self-Released, August 22nd)

"Do we have all that we need?”

In a music scene filled with both diversity and standerized pop, and new bands starting up daily, there seems to be a need for a gimmick. For a band that plays straightforward indie rock what is going to set them apart? What will be their claim to fame, what will they leave behind? For Chicago's Snowsera the key is in the tiny "fictions" written by Bill Arteaga. When Bill shouts out the question, "Do we have all that we need?", I was convinced that this band had the drive find all the answers that they need.

It also doesn't hurt that Snowsera is giving away their ep "Fictions" away for free. Just go to their blog, and enter your e-mail address and they will send you the link to download the album. The cover of the album was design by South Carolina's Katryn Garner, and it seems to be a perfect introduction to five tracks contained within.

24/I See/Runaway/Darling/So Subtle

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