The Everlasting is chocked full of more cultural references than Paul’s Boutique
Jamie S. Rich writes novels about life. While this might sound like a post-modern cliché it is very much true. His books characters aren’t two dimensional. They have intricate pasts, as we all do, and have a wide range of contrasting interests and influences, again as we all do. His first novel Cut My Hair was set in LA, his third novel the Everlasting, is set in Portland in 1999-2000. While this might seem like an obscure setting, it makes perfect sense. Firstly it is where Rich lives, and secondly Portland has a vibrant and exciting cultural scene. This is a rich tapestry to tell his tale.
The main protagonist of the Everlasting is Lance Scott. He is an early 20’s web designer who is obsessed with Paul Weller, and that’s putting it mildly. The plot revolves around his loves and heartaches. A subplot involves conversations with his Mother and Brothers Tristian and Percival. In Rich’s debut Tristian played a pivotal part, so it was good to see him again. What Rich has done in the Everlasting is create a literarily family in the vein of JD Salainger’s Glass family, which he mentions. It is revealed that Percival wrote a book called I Was Someone Dead, which was Rich’s second novel. How post-modern eh?
While didn’t find the plot of the Everlasting as enjoyable as Cut Your Hair. However I did enjoy its nonstop cultural references. Lance wasn’t likeable as Mason, he does feel more fully formed. Everything that befell Manson was brought on by events out of his control, while Lance’s problems were all self-inflicted. When he bemoaned them or moped about I found it hard to feel sympathy for him. What I did find more enjoyable was how Rich name dropped all the time. On certain pages it was just a list bands, songs, films and books, very similar to how Bret Easton Ellis namechecks in American Psycho and Glamorama. It felt like I was in the room, looking around and getting to know the characters. These references points helped me to firstly get to know the characters and secondly feel empathy for them, as shallow as that sounds.
This is a book that has been unfairly slept on since its original publication eight years ago. The characters feel more life-like than the majority I have read about since. The plot is one that we’ve either lived through ourselves or know someone who has. Rich’s writing is deep and meaningful and rammed full of prose. He writes about love and rejection. While some might not enjoy the emotional interplay he brings to his characters, I can’t get enough of it. It’s brave to read a male writing novels like this, and being unashamed to bare his heart and soul. If you have an interest in indie culture, or modern romance stories, this is for you. There are other instalments in the Scott saga. Tristian and Lance appear again Love the Way You Love and Percival’s story is concluded in Have You Seen the Horizon Lately. Both are well worth reading!
Below is a playlist of all the songs and bands mentioned in the Everlasting. I’m pretty sure I’m missing a lot, but these are the ones I picked up on.
The Everlasting Playlist