Adios, Nirvana

by Conrad Wesselhoeft

Since the death of his brother, Jonathan’s been losing his grip on reality. Last year’s Best Young Poet and gifted guitarist is now Taft High School’s resident tortured artist, when he bothers to show up. He's on track to repeat eleventh grade, but his English teacher, his principal, and his crew of Thicks (who refuse to be seniors without him) won’t sit back and let him fail.

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780547577258
  • ISBN-10: 0547577257
  • Pages: 240
  • Publication Date: 01/10/2012
  • Carton Quantity: 24

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About the Book
About the Author
Excerpts
Reviews
  • About the Book

        When you piss off a bridge into a snowstorm, it feels like you’re connecting with eternal things. Paying homage to something or someone. But who? The Druids? Walt Whitman? No, I pay homage to one person only, my brother, my twin.
           In life. In death.
           Telemachus.

    Since the death of his brother, Jonathan’s been losing his grip on reality. Last year’s Best Young Poet and gifted guitarist is now Taft High School’s resident tortured artist, when he bothers to show up. He's on track to repeat eleventh grade, but his English teacher, his principal, and his crew of Thicks (who refuse to be seniors without him) won’t sit back and let him fail.

  • About the Author
  • Excerpts

    Chapter 1

    "Hey, man, get down!"

    "Dude, don’t be an idiot!"

    It’s my thicks calling to me. They’re standing just off the bridge, in the little park with the totem pole. The one that looks out over Elliott Bay and downtown Seattle.

    But tonight you can’t see a thing. Tonight, the world is a giant shaken snow globe. Big flakes tumbling down. The size of potato chips.

    In this city of eternal rain—snow! Once-a-decade snow. Maybe even once-a-century. It’s piling fast.

    We’ve been tossing frozen grapes at each other’s open orifices. Kyle is extremely good at this—can catch a grape in his mouth at fifty feet. So can Javon. They dart and dive and roll, catching nearly every grape despite the swirly snow and patchy street light.

    Nick and I pretty much suck.

    I dig the grapes out of the snow. Eat them.

    They are Mimi’s little specialty, cored and filled with vodka. One or two or ten don’t do much, but thirty or forty—whoa! Kyle lifted the whole bag from my freezer. I’ve had . . . god knows. I lost count a long time ago.

    And now I’m feeling it. All of it. I’m spinning. Delirious. A little sick.

    Plus, I gotta pee.

    I’m standing on the rail of the bridge, midspan, grasping the light pole.

    It’s an old concrete bridge. The rail is waist high and just wide enough for me to perch on without slipping, as long as I hold on to the light pole.

    I gaze up into the blazing industrial bulb. See the flakes lingering in the little upswirl. Below, the ground is bathed in perfect white darkness. It’s not all that far down, twenty or thirty feet. Just enough to break a few bones—or kill you. It looks like a soft pillow. Dimpled by shrubs and bushes.

    "Dude, dude, dude . . ."

    "What’re ya doin’, man?"

    I unzip and explode, blast a twelve-foot rope of steaming piss into the night.

    When you piss off a bridge into a snowstorm, it feels like you’re connecting with eternal things. Paying homage to something or someone. But who? The Druids? Walt Whitman? No, I pay homage to one person only, my brother, my twin.

    In life. In death.

    Telemachus.

    Footsteps crunch up behind me. I know it’s Nick—"Nick the Thick."

    "Hey, Jonathan." His voice is quiet. "C’mon down."

    Just then, my stomach churns. I tighten my grip on the light pole, lean out over the bridge. My guts geyser out of me. I taste the grapes, the soft bean burrito I had for lunch. The tots. The milk.

    Twisting and drooling, I see below that spring has bloomed on the snow-covered bushes. Color has returned to the azaleas. Another wave hits me. And another. All those damn grapes. And, god knows, more burrito and tots.

    Till I’m squeezed dry.

    Pulped out.

    Empty.

    I watch snowflakes cover my mess. It’s like we’re making a Mexican casserole together, the night and me. Night lays down the flour tortilla, I add the vegetable sauce.

    When I look around, Kyle and Javon are standing there, too.

    Kyle says, "If you break your neck, dude, I will never forgive you."

    Javon says, "Already lost one of you. Get your ass down, or I’ll drag it down."

    It hurts. They are my oldest friends, my thicks.

    And thickness is forever.

    But somewhere in that snowy world below, Telemachus waits.

    I loosen my grip on the light pole.

    "Hey!" they shout. "HEY!"

    My frozen fingers slip. Their panicky hands lunge for me.

    But I’m too far gone.

    I’m falling . . . falling. There’s ecstasy and freedom here. Somehow I flip onto my back, wing my arms, Jesus-like, and wait for my quilty azalea bed to cradle me. And my Mexican casserole to warm me.

    I fall, fall, fall into the snowy night.

    Thinking of my brother.

    Thinking of Telemachus.

    Thinking of Telemachus.

    Thinking of Telemachus.

    Thinking of Telemachus.

    Thinking of Telemachus.

  • Reviews

    A 2011 ALA Best Fiction for Young Adults Book

    "Wesselhoeft offers a psychologically complex debut that will intrigue heavy-metal aficionados and drama junkies alike. Peopled with the elderly and infirm, crazy parents, caring educators, and poignant teens trying desperately to overcome death's pull, it mixes real and fictional musicians and historical events to create a moving picture of struggling adolescents and the adults who reach out with helping hands. Adios, Nirvana targets an audience of YAs who rarely see themselves in print."—Booklist

    "Adios, Nirvana is a bit like road rash. It rakes you raw; gets under your skin; and leaves a few shards stuck permanently in your elbow. It is well worth the trip."—Richie Partington, RichiesPicks.com

    "Scribble its name on a wish list, type it into your PDA, or pre-order it...because to miss it would be shame. This was (without a doubt) the BEST book I have read in a year, and if I could give it 6 stars I would. Get it, live, it, love it...pass it on."—Misty Baker, Kindleobsessed.com blog

    "At heart, Adios, Nirvana is everything I'd hoped The Catcher in the Rye would be...Adios, Nirvana is fresh, it's impossible not to feel sympathy for Jonathan and I find myself really wanting to keep reading to see if he can successfully battle his demons. Laced with details into things teens are exposed to on a regular basis—drinking, suicidal thoughts, depression and music, most of all the music—I really loved every minute of Jonathan's coming-of-age tale."—Roundtable Reviews

    "Homage to poetry, music, friendship, and youth, this brash, hip story should attract its share of skater dudes and guitar jammers."—School Library Journal

    "Jonathan's narration is all about style, moving between clipped, one-line sentences and heavily imagistic rhapsodies influenced by his heroes Charles Bukowski and Walt Whitman, soaring often into descriptions of his music and the atmospheric West Seattle milieu that colors his sensibilities and returning frequently to Homeric allusion."—The Bulletin

    "A wonderful blend of contemporary, historical, and literary fiction. [Wesselhoeft's] use of figurative language makes each page dance with images of raw realism....This is a poignant piece for older teens."—VOYA

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