3,000 Miles by Jason Schneider (ECW), 213 pages, $19.95 paper. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Canadian music writer Jason Schneider's first novel probes timeless subjects - music, buddies and road trips. Too bad none of these normally captivating elements pays off.
In northern Quebec in the early 90s, a group of young people are coping with the dead-end jobs, dead-end schooling and drug dealing common to small towns. Devastated by Kurt Cobain's suicide, three of them decide to make a cross-continental pilgrimage to the scene of Kurt's death, where they plan to end their own lives, too.
The narration of their adventures passes from character to character as they guide their old Chevette into Ontario, the U.S. and westward on both sides of the border to the coast. Unfortunately, it's sometimes hard to remember which of the three is speaking at a given time, because the voice remains the same.
Much of this epic story, crammed into just over 200 pages, is told in a "we did this, he did that" fashion, with little dialogue to bring the reader into events as they happen.
By the end, you don't really know the characters or get why their lives have unfolded this way. Gus Van Sant's new movie, Last Days, inspired by Kurt Cobain's suicide, adds another title to the Cobain pop cultural canon. Why do the boys care so much about Kurt? Why do they want to die? Because so much has been glossed over, the reader remains on the outside.
Too bad. There aren't enough great modern rock 'n' roll road trip books, much less Canadian ones.