Dean Bakopoulos: please don’t come back from the moon

22. Juni 2013 § Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

I usually keep away from American literature. I generally feel that I already know a lot about the USA – I’m watching American movies and TV shows, American vloggers on You Tube, listening to American music, I occasionally read the NY Times, eat American fast food, know how the American anthem sounds, I probably can name more American than Austrian presidents (which is sad really), I even had a chance to watch an Austrian news flash about how President Obama gloriously caught a fly with his hand.
There are very few countries in the world I’m as well informed about as about the USA. So why read books about it? So many books, so litte time and there are so many countries in the world I haven’t heard anything about yet. What better way to discover them than by reading?

Still, this time I made an exception. Why? No reason. I just really liked the title of this one.

„please don’t come back from the moon“ is about the American working class far far away from the American dream. These people work hard without ever reaching their goals. Not because they don’t try hard enough but because of the poor economic situation of the area they live in. When Mikey is seventeen years old, the men of his neighbourhood disappear one by one. Some steal away in the middle of the night, others pack their things in broad day light and leave with their wives throwing things after them. One of them left a note „I’m going to the moon. I took all the cash.“ Since then people assumed all of the men left for the moon. It’s easy to guess why. Just a few months before all that happened the factory most of the men were working for closed down. They became unemployed and restless. They spent their days at a bar, getting drunk and into fights. When life became unbearable they just left.

Mikey tells about how the women now had to work double shifts, got drunk themselves and learned to throw some punches, when the neighbourhood boys tried to hit on their daughters. He sees how the houses and yards around him look more and more worn down. He enrols in community college for some literature and journalism classes while working jobs for minimum wage. After the factories had closed down, the new employer of the neighbourhood is the American Mall where all of his friends and he himself work. When a shop closes down they usually keep the previous employees but for an even lesser hourly pay. There are kids, they have to take care of and loans that need to be paid. There is no other chance but to burry your pride and accept the offer.
The place gets more and more depressing and as the years go by, Mikey and his friends can feel the moon calling for them.

I especially liked this book. It was rather hard to stop reading and whenever someone interrupted me I got really annoyed. It has a lot of foul language – a great source for how to address people who interrupt someones reading.
Did I learn something new. Well, hardly. I already saw such environments in American TV shows – but the way it was presented was so frank and simple. Mikey describes his life without anguish. Desperate, surely, but without hate. I sometimes felt, he probably was too exhausted to express any anger.
I liked it. What else can I say?

Dean Bakopoulos: please don’t come back from the moon. Orlando: A Harvest Book Harcourt Inc., 2006

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