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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

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Driving Crazy
Written by Randy D. Pearson, published by Riley Press (http://rileypress.hypermart.net)
$12.99, 261 pgs., 2010

Writing a novel with a narrative that holds together from beginning to end is truly a difficult endeavor. But that’s just what Randy D. Pearson has done with Driving Crazy, a story about two slacker-types who drive from Lansing, Michigan to Weedpatch, California to pick up a Crazy Climber arcade videogame.

Along the way, the two friends—Crazy Climber coveter Jay Naylor and his unemployed ally Austin Ridenour— enjoy an assortment of adventures and encounter a variety of funky folks, all of whom come across as more than a little clich├ęd. There’s the guy who loses a game of pool and pounds his opponent’s face; the grumpy greasy spoon waitress who exclaims, “Look Mac, this ain’t no fine dinin’ experience”; and the kindly diner owner and his matronly wife who put the boys up for a night with free food and lodging.

Indeed, no one will confuse Pearson’s prose with that of Jack Kerouac (of On the Road fame). For a fairer comparison, Rob O’Hara’s real-life adventures in his nonfiction work, Invading Spaces: A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Arcade Games, are amusing without resorting to the type of cheesy humor found in Driving Crazy. Jay and Austin enjoy way too many “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” moments.

Despite its flaws, Driving Crazy is coherent and structurally sound. And, at least for a self-published novel aimed at hardcore gamers, it is fairly entertaining.

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