If the members of the Kinsey Organization all dropped psychedelics and the Moral Majority decided to lower their lofty ideals and both parties came together to write a book laced with honesty and self-acceptance, this is the book they'd probably have written. Written by a twenty-year-old precocious scribe with an ego the size of Texas, the book relates in terrifically described vignettes the problems and pressures that teens of this modern era are constantly being bombarded by.
A handful of main characters act as running commentators in describing the terrible peer loads these vulnerable, essentially virginal actors must face on a a daily basis. There is the narcissist, the wallflower, the self-imposed slut, the drug dealers, and all manner of dregs and slugs who must be constantly deciding what is right and what is wrong - and all without the benefit of parental input or some sort of moral ruler by which they might gauge their actions.
The book leans heavily on Brett Easton Ellis' series of novels about youth gone bad, succumbing to drugs and loaning out their bodies simply to be accepted. Many of the scenes are reminiscent of Brett's portrayals in Less Than Zero, where he represents an entire generation of twenty-somethings as little more than narcotic snorting, bed-hopping individuals who can never seem to find happiness anywhere.
The book's main drawback is the manner in which the inserts - what Beckerman calls "S.L.U.T. Stats" - pages of numbers and percentages of teens who have engaged in sex by the age of fifteen, have drunk alcohol to excess, are apparently meant to solidify his narrative and make us all shake in our boots when we read these statistics. They do little but detract from the main story and in truth, the author probably inserted them simply to take up typespace.
For the most part, his story rings true and brings with it a sense of dire humor. Suicides are given minimal reportage and virtually every girl in the piece seems completely content to loan her body out to any male with the the right line.
The main focus here is on "hooking up," a contemporary phrase that has replaced going out, getting together, meeting up, or simply hanging out. Hooking up is another word for a one-night stand and his representation of this phenomenon is, at times, quite horrible in moral essence.
It is when he swerves from his main theme that the book falls flat. There is an episode where a writer meets Paul McCartney in an elevator in a chi-chi New York Hotel. The dialogue here is third grade, and Marty's attempt at expanding his literary boundaries comes off as pathetic.
Still, this is a fun book,or morbidly curious might be a better term. The book ends with a wish that we could return to yesterday - but we can't. This is a gifted writer and especially for one so young. One can only hope we finds it in himself to write the great novel that's certainly waiting there and leave the sex and drugs and degradation to the true masters - people like Hunter Thompson and the marvelous work left behind by Charles Bukowski.