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Memoirs of a Gas Station: A Delightfully Awkward Journey Across the Alaskan Tundra Paperback – July 14, 2012
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This is the author's first book, but he has obviously worked a great deal at his craft. I can't even begin to imagine what his writing will be like in years to come and look forward to reading more. I actually thought about giving him four stars because of his age, but decided that reasoning made no sense. He deserves five.
As for the story - I felt like I was there. I felt the drain of the gas station, the joy from the partying and outdoors, and the fascination from the eclectic people he met. I think the thing I most admire about this book is the author's honesty. He had to know writing it that people he met would someday find out about the book and read it. I'm sure his parents, other family members, and friends have read the book--and it doesn't seem as though it made a difference to the telling of his story. The book is brutally honest, funny, intelligent, and one hell of a debut. Bravo.
You know what's coming.
Essentially what you get:
1. Descriptions of his co-workers personalities. Some are pretty quirky, and those that don't stand out, don't seem to get mention.
2. Tales about drunkenly... well, doing anything. Hiking, camping, hitchhiking, and onward. Apparently, and reportedly, Sam's experience in Alaska was a slosh-fest. There are many paragraphs that begin: `It gets hazy from here.'
3. Incessant harking on tourists. It almost never clicked, I don't think: No attraction; no tourists : no tourists; no job. It's an intimate cycle.
4. Stories about trying to `score'.
5. Some (maybe?) underdeveloped sentiment involving a girl with whom he had a relationship, but never had a relationship, a process of `seasonal dating' (3870) and it's absolute lack of resolution.
For the majority this was a fairly interesting read. I had no particular reason for reading.
It's true, that based on the above enumerated notions, you're not going to get much out of this work. It presents a couple interesting factoids about Mt. McKinley (or `Denali' the mountain), Denali (the park - camping `Wonder Lake', Kantishna, trips to Fairbanks), the overall vibe of life in Alaska, and adjectives befitting the beauty of the land.
But this is predominantly a recount of a time when Sam was much freer, absolved of the ties of major responsibility and the associated worries. It's the story of many young people - a fair standard for the time, our generation, however not so many would be so free with this story (and info - a few other reviewers have made note of the non-existence of a name-change disclaimer).
It is a good representation of what it is (youth, adventure, experience, existential, an allusion to the zeitgeist) but it is not a `must read' in any critical fashion.
A quarter of the way through the book I've had to abandon trying to finish. The grumblings of a petulant teenager were not what I was hoping for. It's just endless grumbling by a disaffected employee. We've all been that employee at some point, but it gets very wearing very quickly. Nothing of substance about his surroundings, just moaning and whinging.
The thing that really killed it for me was, and I'm getting petty here, the gross overuse of the word legitimately. Legitimately bored. Legitimately drunk. Legitimately cold. I found it legitimately irritating after a while.