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As a Decade Fades Paperback – November 7, 2012
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From the Author
Condensing the story down to its essence required me to jettison some 600+ pages, which turned out to be a gruesome, heartbreaking process. If you had 10 children, which six would you chuck overboard to spare the remaining four? (Wait, don't answer that.) But those murdered pages weren't for naught. They served as an important part of the process; they helped form the now final novel. Without the complexities of an almost 1000-page monstrosity, I wouldn't've had the stone from which I chiseled the final sculpture. I couldn't've found the beauty without the banality.
I spent many days laboring on the prose contained on these pages. The final draft was closely scrutinized by more than a dozen proofreaders and two professional editors. And at the end of the day, I can look myself in the mirror and know that I could not have written a better book than the novel I'm publishing today.
It's worth noting that As a Decade Fades is not a novel in the traditional sense. It is, more or less, a fragmented narrative of 24 short stories--some short, some long--segmented over three distinct sections. This feat was complicated to maneuver around, but I found it necessary to structure the book this way for a myriad of reasons that are hard to describe (if I could explain those reasons here, I probably would not've had to structure the book this way), but against my best judgment, I'll do my best to explain...
Each of the book's 24 stories functions on its own. Thus, any one story can be read as a standalone piece, and a particular meaning or lesson gleaned from that single story. When combined, however, these stories work together to form a larger narrative, relating complex concepts that likely aren't apparent when the stories are read individually.
The way we read--particularly the way we read novels--is changing, and this book is my attempt to participate in that transformation. As a Decade Fades is a reasonably difficult book; it is challenging, but it also has a more significant payoff than, say, a blog or a self-help book or even narrative nonfiction. I wrote this book with this in mind: I want the reader to do some work, and in exchange for said work, there is a greater payoff.
As a Decade Fades is contains a certain amount of grammatical prestidigitation, and thus it is not meant to be read like a freshman college assignment. Much of the syntax is meant to take on the brain-voice as you get closer to the consciousness of a particular character (viz., I want to preserve an oralish, tumbling-words, out-loud feel to the work). Hence, you will often find omitted commas, long run-on sentences, extreme use of polysyndeton, passive construction, progressive tenses, unconventional compound contractions (e.g., "wouldn't've," "I'd've," and "y'all'ren't"), compound words that aren't real words (e.g., "livingroom," "coffeetable," "bumpersticker"), paragraphs beginning with compound conjunctions (e.g., "And but so"), and other intentional grammatical faux-pas in the text. These devices are used to advance the story in a more meaningful/realistic way--i.e., used for your benefit, not necessarily mine. Stated in plain English, I basically pretty much write how I talk.
Because this book is about a musician, and much of it has to do with his writing process, I wanted to structure the book a lot like an album with a bunch of individual tracks (see #2 above).
With all that said, ultimately, this book is a novel, albeit a different kind of novel, one that welcomes literary fiction readers as well as people who don't read fiction at all. It was written in a way in which anyone can read it, tweeze from it their own meanings, and relate to the emotions of its characters. It is an emotion-filled book, and it is my intent, if anything, to connect with readers via these emotions.
About the Author
As the bestselling author of three fiction and four nonfiction books, he has toured internationally and has been featured on CBS This Morning, ABC, NBC, FOX, NPR, CBC Radio,Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, Forbes, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Seattle Times, Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, Vancouver Sun, Village Voice, LA Weekly, Zen Habits, and various other outlets.
Joshua has spoken at Harvard Business School, SXSW, World Domination Summit, and several other organizations, universities, and conferences.
In 2012, he cofounded Asymmetrical Press, an independent publishing company and community that embraces new technologies, methods, and ideas to help writers and creators reach an audience.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1981, Joshua currently lives in Montana. Find more info at JoshuaFieldsMillburn.com.
- Item Weight : 10.2 ounces
- Paperback : 266 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1938793021
- ISBN-13 : 978-1938793028
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.67 x 8 inches
- Publisher : Asymmetrical Press (November 7, 2012)
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Prior to reading "As a Decade Fades," I read Millburn's memoir, "Everything That Remains." While I wouldn't suggest the two are the same, they do cover some of the same material, such as the death of a mother and a broken romance. Out of the two, I found "Everything That Remains" to be the more compelling read.
Being 29 years old myself, and watching my own decade fade, this book strongly resonated with me. Throughout the story Jody Grafton's pain is almost palpable and all too familiar. But, as with Jody's songs, this book is not just about pain and confusion and guilt - it's also about hope and a quest for redemption. I like a good story that doesn't leave me in a place darker than then the place I was before I started reading, and this one managed to inspire and instill hope without the use of false propaganda.
But the main thing I would like to highlight from this book is Joshua's writing. In some pieces of writing I felt as if I was reading poetry, as the words managed to touch somewhere deep and sore within me. The description of physical environments is masterfully tainted by emotional states, and I frequently felt as if I was standing just beside Jody, seeing what he was seeing and feeling what he was feeling. And, somewhat miming the female characters, I would sometimes love and other times hate Jody as I progressed throughout the book pages.
I'll finish with some of my favorite clippings from the book:
'If we drive using the rearview, we are bound to crash'
'He wasn't sure when it had happened, but one day he woke up halfway between somewhere and nowhere and he was twenty-something and nearing thirty as the decade faded'
'to get away from everything that was broken, start anew, experience a rebirth, a chance to get away from a world that was all wrong and to get it all right this time'
'He could not, however, disappear the morning. The morning was unavoidable. He squinted in agony as the sun's rays spotlighted the nicotine-bruised walls'
'The only way for her to be found was to stop following him, to turn around and leave him alone, leave him wandering beneath the darkness of the trees on his own.'
'he wanted nothing but to be loved. But perhaps to hate someone this much you have to love them immensely'
'But sometimes rock bottom is the finest place to be - the view can be astonishing'
'for a moment, Jody was inside a place that felt right to him, inside this kid's world, a world that accepted him and didn't judge him and somehow understood him'
'He wasn't sure what love was, but maybe it felt like this, like water shaped from the shore it meets. Or was it lust that burned off the fog of his thoughts? Or were love and lust the same thing?'
'Jody could keep his eyes on the road now, ignoring the rearview and the rubble behind him. (...) he would have to deal only with the present - and simply hope for the best on the wide open road ahead.'
For much of "As a Decade Fades," Jody Grafton is an excellent example of an unlikeable protagonist. The majority of the novel is devoted to the fallout from Jody's poor decisions and bad behavior throughout his twenties, and the fallout is ugly. Jody consistently wants music, women, and booze to act as vessels for his pain from his broken childhood - which works for a time, until the pain begins to slosh out the top of those vessels and spill over. The booze leads to pills, the music and his recording contract dry up, and his behavior with women becomes caddish to say the least. Throughout it all, though, new women keep appearing, old friends (mostly) stay true, and Jody moves through his twenties, sometimes with purpose and direction, sometimes because there is no other choice in life but to move ahead.
The reader is given enough of Jody's backstory to sympathize with him up to a point (his somewhat-repaired relationship with his mother is particularly poignant - some of my favorite parts of the book), but JFM almost does too good of a job of showing Jody's flaws, and for me at least, sympathy was running thin by the time Jody was alone on a Brooklyn rooftop, trying to sort things out through song. Jody's behavior and attitude towards women veered from understandable twenties bullspit to very off-putting dismissal or objectification, and as a female reader, I had a hard time getting through the many chapters focusing on whatever sex he was or wasn't getting and the discussion around that topic. I get that showing Jody hop from girl to girl to girl shows how desperately he is seeking any kind of connection he can get, but it was too heavy-handed for my taste.
Jody's time on the rooftop made me believe in Jody again - I could see that he was still, in some way, the same guy who had spent three years "earning his calluses" and working his tail off. That's why I was so disappointed when there weren't any other major chapters devoted to Jody's recovery and growth from his crash. I wanted more from Jody - I wanted to see him work to get a second chance in the music business, I wanted to see him work to become a better partner in a relationship - but any growth or changes he may have gone through took place off-stage. There was a summing-up, epilogue-style ending that talked about his life a year or so down the road, but I think walking some of that road could have given the reader a chance to see some of what made Jody so special that he could get any woman he chose and keep tight friendships over decades and distances, despite being so closed-off. I realize that this novel focuses on Jody's twenties and the flame out that ensued during them, so I guess what I would really love to see is Jody Grafton again in another decade - kind of check in on him and see if he has dug in or thrown in the towel.
The majority of this book worked for me. I loved the structure with each chapter as a stand-alone short story or vignette. The album review device was perfect for getting to know Jody better. The dialogue, overall, was superb. As I said above, Jody's fractured relationship with his mother was incredibly poignant. A handful of the chapters were really near perfect - tone, characters, pacing, the works. And in the end, I could appreciate the struggles and events that lead up to Jody's crash, and days later I'm still thinking about the book enough to write this tl;dr length review :) I would recommend this book with a solid three stars as "very good," with the caveat that fellow female readers may have a hard time with Jody's relationships with women.
Top reviews from other countries
I look forward to reading other works from Joshua.
Der Anfang von As a decade fades zieht sich eine Weile. Es dauert einen Moment bis man genug über den Hauptcharakter Jody Grafton erfahren hat, um mehr über ihn wissen zu wollen. Das Buch erzählt das bewegte Leben eines Musikers - von den Anfängen bis zu den 15 Minuten Ruhm und wieder zurück. Dabei ist offensichtlich, dass vieles - wenn nicht gar das meiste - autobiographisch ist. Vor allem diese Frage: Was ist wahr und was erfunden, ist sehr spannend.
I wish there was more fiction by Millburn to talk of. 'As A Decade Fades' was surprisingly good.