Book Jacket


rank 5916
word count 91126
date submitted 10.10.2009
date updated 03.11.2009
genres: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Popular ...
classification: moderate

American Throes

Jacob Wasek

Every generation of young people has felt uncertainty and anxiety towards the future due to the troubled realities of their own time.


Mark finds himself cynical and lost in the circulatory system of contemporary America. Even though Mark despises pop-culture, he is still immersed in it. He feels that he is a living anachronism. He is a person who prefers unique and meaningful experiences and friendships over the financial allure of a professional career, especially when living in a country with a failing economy and political incompetence from all directions, Left and Right. Dropping out of a stereotypical and overpriced liberal arts college after an effortless three semesters, he fumbles around between Chicago and Madison, working coffee shops while pondering on which is the lesser of two evils; attending school full-time or working full-time. Mark passes the time by drinking with friends downtown and exhausting himself in the common nightlife of twenty-something year olds, attending political protests, meeting new people and revisiting old friends and brooding over the absence of a meaningful direction on the personal and national road ahead. It takes several existentially-crushing events dealing with the self, friends, family and CNN headlines to help Mark realize what it is that he is supposed to do in order to truly feel that life is being lived properly and significantly.

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america, anxiety, college, culture, despair, drugs, friends, hopeful, iraq, love, maturing, society, struggle, truthiness, working, youth

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gillyflower wrote 1609 days ago

This is a very individual book. The failure of the American dream, which you focus on at first, has probably been an idea much in play since Vietnam if not long before, but the whole 9/11 (or 11/9 in American dates) and the 'war on terrorism' which followed has meant that for the current generation, the corruption and deceit of the ruling politicians is more obvious than ever. Interesting as this is, I think it's when you finish filling in Mark's background and his way of thinking, and move on to show him chatting with his work mates, and sitting on the porch with his friends, smoking and making plans for the rest of the summer, that your book comes alive. Conversation makes any book more interesting, as we get to know the characters. This is a very complex, powerful book, with some excellent writing. 'Each individual day is like a confused puzzle piece lost in the dark,' Mark says, and again, in speaking of the fracture of the American Dream, he describes, 'halls of dim looming factories reproducing magazine flesh to feed the hunger of the Hollywood apparatus.' This is good writing. in its own individual way. Backed.
Gerry McCullough,
Belfast Girls.

T.L Tyson wrote 1632 days ago

Your voice resonates throughout.
Was unsure what to expect. But did enjoy the chapter I read. backed.
T.l Tyson-Seeking Eleanor

Cooley Kronish wrote 1642 days ago

You're certainly a product of your influences. You have a strong narrative driven along by a stronger voice (I'm thinking Holden Caulfield & Tyler Durden redux.) It's engaging stuff.

If I had to have a gripe with what you have here, I'd have to pick up on your use of Barry Bonds & Brett Favre, towards the very end of CH:1 - their inclusion dates your work. But as gripes go, that's about as minor as they get!

Well done, great stuff.

Freddie Omm wrote 1643 days ago

confident writing voice carries what could otherwise be a dark, proselytizing narrative along without the reader feeling overwhelmed by negativity ā€“ the existential angst felt by your narrator is expressed cohesively and will tap into the conscious of many, i suspect . it's a book i'd gladly buy .

pitch could maybe do with splitting into paras ā€“ make it easier to read ā€“ and maybe spicing up a bit.. is a bit dry towards the end .

dialogue interactions break up the text nicely, adjusting the pace, and are authentic and lively . good stuff there . . .

this is a great read and like many such, not suited to on-screen... as i said, this is a book i would buy and enjoy fully in paper form and iā€™m happy to give it a spin on my rotating shelf .


chrisalys wrote 1646 days ago

You have a definite market for this work with the anger i think is out there for the state of the governments in most countries and the helplessness most people feel etc. The writing is strong and has a wonderful literary quality about it. Good luck with it, backed.

C.P. wrote 1646 days ago

American Throes

Wow. No that's one depressed dude. Cup half empty kind of guy. But you know I think there are a lot of young people that feel the same as he does. Disillusioned with the establishment and government. You have tapped into something here. The only thing I would suggest is to write more of it into scene. Show us don't tell us. Let us find out why Mark is the way he is. We with both relate and care for him more. Good luck and on my shelf. C.P

sperber1 wrote 1649 days ago

You have a lot to say about our times, and that is terrific. The inner monologue you give your lead character is a good way to do it, although I suggest that you break up the huge paragraphs of gray text -- to a reader, they are a turn-off. When the dialogue comes, it is more than welcome. This does not mean that I do not like the book -- I do like it, because, for one thing, not too many books take the same world-weary, somewhat cynical POV that you do. But I suggest that if you allow Mark's viewpoints to come out of him naturally in later chapters, perhaps as the result of interaction with others, it will see more real, rather than have them be shared with us in the author's voice. Just my two cents, you may disagree.

On the plus side, you have a story to tell and a point of view to share. There is far too few of either these days. Shelved.

C W Bigelow wrote 1651 days ago

Well written, but extremely sad commentary. Through two chapters and am looking for some light - some humor, because even the sarcasm is a downer. Maybe there will be hope in chapter 3. Nice writing but I want to like him more. Shelved. CW (To Save the Sun or Men of Creation)

KJKron wrote 1652 days ago

One thing that you are able to do extremely well - and not too many writers can do this - is give your MC a personality, get inside his head, and let him expand on his thoughts. It's really something a lot of people can't do because they aren't that reflective. His views made me laugh in a few places and even though he rambled for awhile, I found myself saying - that's interesting, or nodding my head, or saying "really?" And as one who grew up in Fairfax (currently a high school teacher in Prince William County) a lot of his backstory was especially interesting.

You have appropriately labeled this literary. I feel that it would attract Gen X and Y ers. Here's a thought - and feel free to dismiss it - but could some of his rant be aimed at someone? Perhaps a speech to his parents, friends, or boss? Just throwing that out there. I'm enjoying this one. Shelved.

BexMcK wrote 1652 days ago

First of all, let me say well done for getting it down on paper! All these things in your opening barrage of craziness have been rattling around in my head for years, and I've never quite had the guts to write it down and put it out there in public like that. As a disillusioned Yank who settled in the UK, largely because I felt so much like Mark, I know where you are coming from.

To attract the attention of publishers, you'll have to break up your political rant a bit-- find other ways of weaving it into the story without overwhelming the characters and events. Readers and publishers like plotline and action from the outset (or so I"m told....)- because most people don't have the attention span for long chunks of prose. But that said, don't water it down too much or you'll lose the bravery and commitment of your book.

I find myself wondering just what it is Mark will have to do to find fulfillment... I better keep reading.
You're on my shelf.
Bex McK (Matter Out of Place)

Andrew W. wrote 1652 days ago

American Throes

Hi Jacob,

My advice is simple: Listen not to those who ask you to edit yet. There is a strong authorial voice coming through here for me, a deep and detailed engagement with the world, a battle to understand and explain as much as to tell a story. You capture the existential angst of young people well, being one helps of course, but that doesn't mean it isn't rather clever to be able to articulate it. I work with young people everyday and this description you paint, this cynicism, this worry, this ennui is there. Life without purpose is no life at all, Victor Frankl hit the nail on the head with tragic optimism. A great piece of stream of consciousness writing here and I don't think you should edit it just yet. There are some inherently interesting explorations of the world here. You are trying out some interesting ideas, could this be the next great American novel. I love John Irving and there are similarities here in your reflectivity as a writer, your analytical and observational skills. Good stuff. If you have the time to pop by mine that would be fantastic.

Best wishes and good luck
Andrew W.
(Sanctuary's Loss)

Ayrich wrote 1653 days ago

You will get a lot of advice here regarding style and voice. before you take any of it, and some of it is Very good, find the shelf in the store your book will sit on and read a few of those published works as a basis of comparison. Different Genras require different focus.
I found the book appealing. I think the fisrt chapter could be tightened a bit, but I write thrillers, so I would. Shelved.

Elaina wrote 1653 days ago

Wow, Jacob, this is real talent. Incredible insight and excellent writing. I am shelving.

Steve Ward wrote 1654 days ago

Great writing for such a young person. You show a lot of insight, in this introspective and often dark memoir. It has to be tough for a young person to deal with so many suicides and accidental deaths of peers. What does it mean? You have the rest of your life to find out. Some of us, in our old age, already have. Good luck with your writing career.
Steve Ward
Test Pilot's Daughter: Revenge

TheLoriC wrote 1656 days ago

Just one thing...your long pitch needs to be broken into paragraphs, but other than that, this was an exciting and delightful read! I see a lot of promise happening and putting it on my shelf.

L. Anne Carrington, "The Cruiserweight"

beegirl wrote 1656 days ago

Stream of consciousness!
If I find another Sea Pillow I am going to send it to you.

Pia wrote 1656 days ago

Dear Jacob,

I read in American Throes since I know a number of young people there, children of friends, students, you age.
It's late, no, early, and I'm drowning in words, well, no, I'm diving, I'm diving for the nuggets, and I find them. But it's late, and I must come back to read more.
You are a philospher finding his voice. And it shines through:
... Somewhere in the future is the visible source of light. ... Every little bit of every little action born from every little decision matters so very much ...

Writers who share their thoughts and imagination on authonomy are interesting, brave and generous. Read some here, comment some, and make friends.

Pia (Course of Mirrors)