© 2102 Patrick Roesle
It’s the end of the millenium. Somewhere in the shopping mall saturated, suburban New Jersey, The Returners are riding high on the last wave of Ska. Charlie, Sal, Jack, and Joe are fresh out of high school or there about. The world is theirs and nothing stands in their way. So starts what rapidly turns to inauspicious beginnings of The Zeroes, a new novel by Patrick Roesle. At its heart The Zeroes is a story of growing up, growing apart and coming to the bitter realization that even with all the drive and all the talent and all the potential, sometimes life leads nowhere.
The book is presented in a narrative manner by a character that I can best discern remains nameless throughout. He’s Charlie’s best friend and a talented comic artist, but the storyline takes a very first person aspect and is viewed almost entirely from this lens. Charlie, of course is the brains behind The Returners a four piece, ostensibly 3rd wave Ska band with Sal on drums, Jack on bass and Joe on trombone. But this isn’t a book report.
Sufficed to say, things get bad. Nothing goes as planned and the best intentions fall to pieces. Despite the best efforts, people get out of high school and leave town. Relationships drift apart. Dreams are dashed. People snap. People become cynical and jaded. Inevitably there are those that remain behind.
The Zeroes is a fantastically depressing read. It is perhaps an epitaph upon the dying embers of the last wave of Ska or more likely, it is a somber note that not everything works out. For those of us that lived through the turn of the last century, especially ones who were into Ska, Punk and Hardcore, the book reads like a chapter out of life anywhere in the USA. The bands, the shows, the friends, the triumphs, and the failures could have all happened to any one of us.
The stark, visceral reality, combined with the sonic backdrop of my relative youth makes this one hell of a book. It reminds me of what life would be like a bit less than a generation after Salad Days. A little more jaded and a lot more East Coast, but still a wild ride that doesn’t always work up where you wanted to go.
(Oh, for the record, Permanent Revolution is a brilliant record.)