I can’t help but think that all the girls in this story are somewhere filled with regret like a claw-foot tub and they each own an entire DNA strand of fractured creative genes. Each one a little bit broken and a little bit lost, a road trip gone bad. Girls that act broken all of the time from a childhood trauma, or a high school breakup. You know all those essays that discuss the problems of the world with the huge and completely inadequate title of “daddy issues.” This is a whole different conversation about the book that I need to obviously have with Slash Coleman.
I feel like Slash Coleman is the perfect guy for every single one of my Beyonce-style, single lady friends. Ladies….
I’m secretly hoping he’s going to laugh out loud at this since I just read his heartbreak of a memoir and feel like he’s lived next door to me for the entirety of my young adult girlhood. He’s like that guy that your mom always hears rumors about in the neighborhood and she comes home saying, “Oh Cass, did you hear about Mrs. Coleman’s son, he’s been out on a compound, he’s been painting paper mache in the basement of a mansion, he’s been dating this girl with the name of a flower, but I can’t really remember what the name was exactly, she was blonde though, his mother says, if that tells you anything. He’s attempting to write a book like you, isn’t that cute? Two people on the street are trying to write books, adorable. Now you go ahead and go back upstairs and continue your Pulitzer, dinner will be ready at five.”
There’s something intimate about reading the book of someone who is telling their own story. You want to believe every single second about it. Yes, of course Slash made corn bread after being told he couldn’t use milk at a weekend of rejuvenation retreats. Then you think about your own memories and how your mind has dissected them and turned them each into a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde of their own being. My memories have become something that I can look at from my own viewpoint, but they certainly aren’t the whole truth. That’s what I like about memoir. If I went to Slash’s flower girlfriend today and asked her to read the few chapters about herself, would she remember it the same? Probably not. But that’s what stories are for, right? We pass them down so they can form and change in other people’s perspectives. This is also why we argue, we compromise, we vent, we conquer, so many of the stories we tell ourselves are stories that are made-up from true experience. I love that, write, write, write, people. Write yourself into a place that you’ve never been too, you can do that. It won’t be memoir, but it will be that perfect balance of truth and lies.
Slash Coleman is a hero for college creative writer’s everywhere who were told what a great writer they were and then realize that writing is something you do everyday and not something you get rewarded for. He’s also my personal hero for pointing out tiny flaws between the lines of his memoir with MFA programs. It’s clear to me that Slash can write, and write well, and make me laugh out loud at the idea of a boy hacking at a tree (not my usual laugh-sequence), but it took him a serious journey to get to where he was writing down his own story.
I loved every embarrassing moment he shared, every moment that would never happen to me in my real life. This is the kind of story where you say, “YES, now HE should write a memoir, look at the way he’s lived.” It’s a bit Running with Scissors mixed with Mennonite in a Little Black Dress meets I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell has dinner with every six-word memoir book made at Smith, sleeps with Girl, Interrupted. I think that pretty much covers it. Slash puts the humanity into life’s scavengers. He’s the creepy voice in all of us that tells us how awkward we are in normal situations. The WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT, JENNY. Except he’s actually living through his own oddness which is truthfully known as “creativity” to those of us that are odd.
I guess I should share the title. Bohemian Love Diaries is a book of a boy growing up and learning how to be himself. We all go through that “coming of age” story, but we definitely don’t do it all the same way. It takes some of us longer, some of us need to travel by foot or plane, some of us need to chase others who are “coming of age,” or do something incredibly weird to realize that we just aren’t like everyone else and should Peter Pan our way into not aging. There’s so many ways to “come of age” which is why I hate that book category, but I guess it can cover this memoir and Jane Eyre at the same time, why not. Slash begins with his Jewish childhood (and the small hints that his mother is a “closeted Jew). We learn about his tense relationship with his father and how they come together on terrifying fishing trips. We also learn that his grandparents and mother were survivors of the Holocaust which I WOULD LIKE YOU TO WRITE THAT BOOK AS WELL, SLASH COLEMAN. There was a need for all-caps because I found that hint of history so important to his story, and so important to the humanity within this book. The Holocaust is the defining moment of crushing creativity in our people’s history.
In the middle of the book and throughout the rest, we read about Coleman’s history of important relationships. We muddle through some relationships, but others are profound in the way we see ourselves. I think it’s safe to say people have around 2-5 of these profound relationships in their lives. I really enjoyed the coming clean of Coleman’s relationships because they show how couples can fall apart without the huge deal-breakers that people think end relationships. It was a really strange, but natural way of showing how a relationship unfolds and why. The best part of the relationship sections was reading how Coleman got through the after-break-up-ice-cream-gorging-phase. It felt so real to me and almost uncomfortable in it’s honesty. I love being uncomfortable when I read.
The book ends in a full-circle road trip with his father. I won’t give it away, but it’s beautiful. I don’t often say a plot is beautiful, I’m usually a word person, but the way that this bohemian discovers the truth of his father is devastatingly pretty. Not girl-pretty, just something-floating-in-space-pretty. This book won’t be hard to spot since the cover has a small child in underwear and a helmet, which just dawned on me makes complete sense to parts of this story. I dare you to read it to get to the truth.