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No Alternative [Kindle Edition]

William Dickerson
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99

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Book Description

NO ALTERNATIVE is a coming-of-age drama that drills a hole into the world of suburban American teenagers in the early 90's.

Thomas Harrison is determined to start his own alternative band, an obsession that blinds him to what's either the mental collapse, or the eruption of musical genius, of his little sister, Bridget. Bridget boldly rejects her brother's music, and the music of an entire generation of slackers, by taking on the persona of an X-rated gangsta' rapper named "Bri Da B."

NO ALTERNATIVE probes the lives of rebellious kids who transition into adulthood via the distortion pedals of their lives in an era when the "Sex, Drugs & Rock'n'Roll" ethos was amended to include "Suicide" in its phrase.


William Dickerson sets into motion a series of relationships against the backdrop of the suicide of Kurt Cobain, recreational drugs, keg parties in fields, Jesuit high schools, the Baby Boomers who gave birth to the children drinking from kegs in fields, killing commies with laser beams, depression, and the rise of anti-depressants to combat the depression, the New York State Judicial System, Melanin Theory, corporate behemoths from Seattle, the next Nirvana, the emergence of Biggie Smalls in White America, headshrinkers, smoking cigarettes, Converse sneakers (the Jack Purcell's, not the All-Stars), sibling rivalry, parental expectations, Catholicism, and the felony theft of something that was to never be.

And let's not forget:

Garage Bands; the real thing, not the software,
Gangsta' Rap,
Generation X.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set in 1994, Dickerson's coming-of-age debut—which features healthy doses of alternative rock, angst, and family dysfunction—follows teen siblings Thomas and Bridget as they struggle to find themselves and their way in the world. Emotionally troubled Thomas has his sights set on musical fame, while Bridget—who is also musically inclined—releases her anxiety via graphic gangsta rap performances at open mike nights. Readers who lived through the 1990s will easily relate to Thomas's obsession with the grunge rock scene and Bridget's attempts to pacify her inner turmoil with a regimen of antidepressants. Both protagonists are vividly drawn, as are the book's peripheral characters, such as the teens' parents, who are damaged and struggling as well. While Dickerson's prose frequently devolves into ruminative exposition that, while intermittently informative and entertaining, causes narrative momentum to stagnate, the novel—with its clear-eyed glimpse into the lives of a troubled family—satisfies.


"A sympathetic coming-of-age story deeply embedded in '90s music. Reflective, unafraid of big-picture pronouncements--'nothing is more do-it-yourself than suicide.' The cool, casual tone results in knockout diagnoses of the '90s teenage condition: 'You feel older as a teenager than you will ever feel in your entire life.'" -Kirkus Reviews

"The novel--with its clear-eyed glimpse into the lives of a troubled family--satisfies." -Publishers Weekly

"Simultaneously brutal and funny, caustic and caring, 'No Alternative' is a sacrament to be shared by all the survivors who grew up at the tail end of the fragmenting century." -Jack O'Connell, author of "The Resurrectionist"

"A five star read, especially for any member of Generation X." -Versatile Book Reviews

"'No Alternative' is a beautifully written character study, using both the early/mid-90s music landscape and cultural climate as mirrors to thoroughly human experiences." -Independent Publisher

"Written for music fans as well as lovers of truly excellent literary fiction, 'No Alternative' is one book not to be missed." -Chris Mendius, author of "Spoonful"

"'No Alternative' is one of those sparkling little independent gems that makes you want to stand up and celebrate your literacy...with cake and punch." -Insatiable Booksluts

"Pungent insights and quotable dialogue abound in this novel, which, in the end, movingly dramatizes the ability of art to transcend death and other human tragedies." -Indie Reader

Product Details

  • File Size: 486 KB
  • Print Length: 341 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0985188618
  • Publisher: Kettle of Letters Press (April 5, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007RZZX76
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #624,249 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great find! April 13, 2012
I figured I'd take a shot on a new author and I'm so glad that I did. The description of the book really intrigued me, because I was a teenager in the 90's and was heavily influenced by the music of that time. Not sure why more stories aren't set in this time-period, but hopefully this one will start a trend.

I don't want to give too much away, but I feel like I need to highlight the character of Bridget. She is my favorite part of the book and is, by far, the most unique character I've encountered in a while. The way she chooses to channel her emotional issues is both frightening and truly hilarious...not to mention pretty freaking awesome! The visual imagery of this perfectly preppy teenage girl becoming obsessed with gangsta' rap and creating a whole new persona--its seriously entertaining. I sort of wish she was real so I could hear her music for myself!

While Bridget clearly stands out, her world is populated with friends and family that feel just as real as she does. The book turns stereotypes on their heads, while delving into some pretty serious issues that are just as relevant in the present day as they were back in the early 90's--maybe even moreso. The entire story was moving and engaging, not to mention the overwhelming nostalgia I felt reading about the days of "grunge." I really enjoyed reading this and recommend it to anyone who is looking for captivating characters and a snapshot of 90's youth culture.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Missive from America's Lost Decade January 10, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A stunning "must-read," Dickerson's NO ALTERNATIVE captures--brilliantly--what it meant to be a teenager at the end of the American Century. Dickerson uses the music and culture of the early 90s to explore some of the most delicate aspects of the human experience--innocence, love, death, family, and rebellion. Lots of novels use music as a story-telling vehicle, but Dickerson's passion for the grunge-era, and his devotion to its various saints and saviors (Cobain looms particularly large) sets this novel apart.

Dickerson's story is brilliant. Specifically, Bridget is one of the most compelling characters I've encountered in some time. I must admit: I initially balked at the idea of a young, white female transforming herself into a gangta rapper. But Dickerson is one hell of a writer, and Bridget's fresh and daring character quickly quelled any doubts I had about "Bri Da B." With Bridget leading the way, Dickerson creates a memorable cast of authentic, relatable characters whose interactions, both with each other and the culture of the early 90s, offer a cutting, insightful exploration of art's ability to transcend and transform.

In fact, Dickerson's characters are so strong that NO ALTERNATIVE's only flaw is that, on occasion, the author works too hard to tell, rather than allowing his creations to speak for themselves. But even when Dickerson lets his own viewpoint slow down the narrative, his passion and voice are strong enough that the reader remains engaged.

Ultimately, NO ALTERNATIVE offers not only an incredible story and cutting social commentary, but the novel stands as a monument to the possibilities of the indie publishing revolution.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The alternative to a regular read. September 20, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I was approached by the author to review No Alternative after he read my review of Kurt Cobain's Journals. Anyone who knows me well, or has read some of my books, knows I'm a big nirvana fan. After I read the description I thought I'd be an idiot to not take a crack at reading it. After all, this book had a history I'd lived through, and an insightful approach to my generation.

The story starts in October of 1994, shortly after the death of Kurt Cobain, when "grunge" music was booming. A seventeen year-old, Thomas, with the help of his love for music, and dusty set of drums, decides to start his own band. His sister, Bridget, (fifteen years-old) hates Thomas's music and is struggling to find her own identity. The teens are raised in a privileged household, on the East Coast, with a father who's a judge and their mother is a homemaker.

I had trouble sympathizing with the teens since I lived through this era, experiencing the same timeline, but was not raised in a well-to-do household. "Grunge" is a different experience when you're from a small town in the Midwest, and you can't afford a pair of Allstar Chucks.

But this book is the perfect example why I refuse to leave a star rating for a book unless I complete it. While the story is engaging, the narration becomes sidetracked for several pages at a time to give the reader a history lesson on the economy and music from the 1960's and 1980's. This may be something a younger person would enjoy if they didn't know about how the events in those eras effected 1994, but since I lived it, it just felt excessive to the story at hand. There was also a lot of commentary throughout the book that seemed unnecessary, but is redeemed and explained in the last 15% of the book. (I'm not sure of the exact page numbers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting commentary on the 90s June 17, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I picked this book because the time period intrigued me. I was the tender age of 12 in 1994, the year the action of this book takes place. Also, I love music and love reading about the influence of current events and culture on the songs of that time period.

Has it really been nearly two decades?

This book slammed me back into the mid-90s. I was half-tempted to find my flannels and baby doll tees.

But underneath all of the nostalgia, there is a deep current of social commentary that shines through from each chapter: "We want so desperately to be fooled into believing that as long as we build a perfect white picket fence along our property line, everything will be perfect behind it".

Thomas is a senior at an exclusive all boys Jesuit high school. His idol, Kurt Cobain, committed suicide six months before the narrative begins. Thomas, like every other Generation Xer, longs to be in a band and make music. After his period of mourning, he dusts off his drums and sets out to start a garage band.

His sister, meanwhile, has no love for grunge. She likes gansta rap, the more offensive the better. She finds a keyboard one day and starts writing and performing her own music.

Bridget also has mental issues and in the 90s, antidepressants were becoming mainstream, and kids were being put on them at alarming rates.

Their parents are upright pillars of society. Their father is a judge sitting on the Supreme Court of New York, and their mother is an aging hippie.

The different layers of teenage angst, social commentary, history and music blend together to create the story that alternates from the story of Thomas and Bridget to a dissertation on Generation X.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars No Alternative
What a deep and tragic story of the times we live in now. The story of a family that wanted for nothing but communication. Read more
Published on May 11, 2013 by Debra harris
1.0 out of 5 stars So so book
Very opinionated writer that goes on in detail of his option and strays from the actual story line. It becomes boring with his constant opinions.
Published on May 3, 2013 by Terry a davis
5.0 out of 5 stars Teriffic, haunting read
This impressive novel takes place in the 90s, right after Kurt Cobain died.
As the title indicates and the times would predict, the central theme of the book centers around... Read more
Published on December 10, 2012 by AGPeditor
5.0 out of 5 stars BLOWN AWAY!
William Dickerson's haunting debut novel "No Alternative" takes place takes place in and around Yonkers, New York shortly after Kurt Cobain shot himself in 1994. Read more
Published on December 8, 2012 by Chris Mendius
4.0 out of 5 stars When you think you have no options there is No Alternative!
I've read many books over the reads yet none have touch on before, during, and after affects of suicide on a whole family. Read more
Published on November 13, 2012 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars No Alternative
No Alternative takes place in the early 90's around the time of Kurt Cobain's suicide. Now if you don't know who he was ... he was the lead vocalist for the grunge band Nirvana. Read more
Published on October 23, 2012 by marybeth
3.0 out of 5 stars Hook up the walkman and take a trip back to the 90's
Being born in the mid 80's, I wasn't quite old enough in 1994 to mourn the loss of Kurt Cobain or appreciate the debut album of Green Day. Read more
Published on October 20, 2012 by Melanie
3.0 out of 5 stars Good 90's Book
The author emailed me and asked me to review this book if he sent it to me and i said, sure! Who doesn't like getting a book? Read more
Published on September 27, 2012 by M. J. Lloyd
5.0 out of 5 stars No Altr
The story that was presented in this book was very deep and emotional. It's written excellently diving into the lives and thoughts of all the characters that make you connect and... Read more
Published on September 1, 2012 by Jas
3.0 out of 5 stars Alternatives all around
When asked to review Dickerson's book, I was unsure what I would get. The author approached me directly, asking for a "fair" review, which I interpreted to mean "tell me what you... Read more
Published on September 1, 2012 by Amateur reviewer
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More About the Author

William Dickerson graduated from The College of The Holy Cross with a Bachelor's Degree in English and received his Master of Fine Arts in Directing from The American Film Institute. His debut feature film "Detour," which he wrote and directed, was hailed as an "Underground Hit" by The Village Voice, an "emotional and psychological roller-coaster ride" by The Examiner, and nothing short of "authentic" by The New York Times. He self-released his metafictional satire, "The Mirror," which opened YoFi Fest's inaugural film festival in 2013. He recently completed his third feature film, "Don't Look Back," for MarVista Entertainment. His award-winning work has been recognized by film festivals across the country.

His first book, "No Alternative," was declared, "a sympathetic coming-of-age story deeply embedded in '90s music" by Kirkus Reviews. He currently serves on AFI's Alumni Executive Board and is a Faculty Member at the New York Film Academy. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

For more info on William Dickerson, visit:

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