I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
Michael Reed reached out to me requesting for a review back when I was on vacation. In his mail he wondered if I’d “be interested in reviewing [his] literary/satire “Songs From Richmond Avenue,” which is set in Houston, Texas, and is largely about drunks.” Never have I ever started laughing about a book right from the review request email. Read on to find out what exactly I thought about the book.
If the adage “nothing civilized ever resulted from the drinking of beer” requires further proof, one needs look no farther than down Houston’s pothole-infested Richmond Avenue. There, the blurry-eyed denizens of the Relix Club wile away the hours engaged in their two favorite activities – drinking and betting.
Until recently that was good enough for our storyteller, a journalist of questionable work ethic, who undergoes an epiphany following a bus stop meeting with pretty Michelle, a woman he declares has “skin so perfect I doubted she even had pores.”
Could she be his redemption? Maybe, but first he’d better contend with her baseball bat-wielding former beau, her nihilistic stripper roommate and the suspicious death of a friend, who fancies himself the father of Brute Generation poetry.
Mostly satire, often wildly unpredictable, the only real long shot in Songs From Richmond Avenue would be for its protagonist to put down his beer long enough to learn anything of true value.
Before you read any further, understand that this book proves Atkinson’s third rule of drinking, “nothing civilized ever resulted from the drinking of beer“. No, really. Beer seemed more like a main character in this story than the actual main character, an unnamed journalist. Yup. The protagonist’s name is not revealed in this book. I don’t know if this is something new age artistic literature includes, but to poor old-fashioned me, this was just annoying. Sure, the way the author’s written situations in a way the MC’s name doesn’t need to be said is commendable, but it’s not a nice feeling when you’re halfway through the book, rooting for the main character, and still don’t know what his name is.
The unnamed MC and his ragtag group of friends get involved in a lot of shenanigans, while beer flows freely throughout the story. Almost everything gets connected in the end, except for a character named Randy–who’s death the MC mourns–who just doesn’t fit in anywhere, except for establishing that MC has weird friends.
The writing has some grammatical errors but it’s also strangely lyrical. If this book were made into a movie, it would be one of those artistic movies where everything is dark and happens at night. There are a lot of laugh-out-loud jokes which would fit well in The Hangover universe. For instance, the journalist is kidnapped by a bunch of thugs and they call him a “word p*ssy” for working in journalism. The funny writing is also very relatable.
“I never understood a lot of things less complicated than why people put up with each other.”
With a cover that’ll make necks crane when you read this book on public transport, weird characters with names like Honey and The Buddhist, and a style of writing that oscillates between satirical and artistic, Songs From Richmond Avenue is a wonderfully weird and entertaining book. Read it if you like satire, dark humor, and The Hangover-esque stories.
Rating: 4 out of 5
What did you think of my review? Would you read this book? Let me know in the comments!