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Lee Williams: After Nirvana


After Nirvana

Author: Lee Williams

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Several fast quips leap to mind when reading After Nirvana, the first novel by hyped author Lee Williams: "A modern-day Catcher In The Rye with more gay sex," or "My Own Private Idaho with more people and plenty of grunge," or "Move over, Bret Easton Ellis, here comes the new king of shock fiction." Williams' prose is given to fast quips. In After Nirvana (the band, not the state of mind), three teenage boys and two teenage girls roam the Pacific Northwest, mainly squatting in Portland and picking up cash through shoplifting and prostitution. Unfortunately, they do this and little else. Williams doesn't fall into the easy trap of putting philosophical monologues into his characters' mouths, nor does he make them drip with pathos. Instead, he evokes sympathy through repetition: His characters don't have much, just some warehouse space in which to squat and a dream of living in an actual apartment. Sympathy for the characters doesn't seem to be the author's goal, however; in fact, he doesn't really seem to have one. After Nirvana doesn't have any simple answers, or any resolution at all. It's a solid first book, and, after he tires of trying to shock the reader through casual portrayals of sex and drugs, Williams may go on to become a great writer instead of merely a good one.