Being a pretty big AFI fan, I was really excited to read the lead singer, Davey Havok‘s debut novel ‘Pop Kids’. To summarise, its the story of the young famed-obsessed Michael Massi, a self-proclaimed straight edge vegan growing up in a small town in California. Rebelling against his meat eating Italian parents, Christian neighbours and outcast social status, he sets up film nights in an abandoned theatre, dreaming of propelling himself to the heights of reality TV stars and the bright lights of LA.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who began reading this and immediately thought of Havok writing himself as the lead. Written in first person, its hard to differentiate the character’s thoughts from that of the author. The references to AFI’s lyrics are also easy to spot (for those of us who’ve listened enough), the Phoenix Theatre, the ‘candle wax and dried up flowers’.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t find the lead character likeable. I found him increasingly unlikeable. Without giving away too much of the plot, his judgements on women, criticising a friend’s girlfriend for refusing to perform OJ (oral joy, as he calls it..), then his obsession with the vegan blonde Becca, who he admires for her purity, whilst applauding Stella for her impurity. It’s vaguely hypocritical. Oh, and the constant referencing to clothing brands. Not being American, many times I had to Google the name, just to find out which item he was actually referring to.
Havok’s music taste, I’ll allow without judgement. Michael’s neverending quest for fame though, just feels cheap. I want him reach into the book and ask him why he needs it so much. Why he’s risking everything he has for it. Why he’s so devoted to the vapid Stella.
Feeling worlds apart from Michael, its hard for me to understand his goals. He grew up with the LA stars on the horizon, I grew up with the faint glow of London. Perhaps I’m simply more grounded in reality. Perhaps some are just born with loftier ambitions. Either way, the dissosociated youth presented in the novel is quite detached from my own experience. I can imagine his world exists, somewhere. Maybe at the parties I wasn’t invited to, amongst the ‘cool’ kids that I never fitted with.
It was a great relief when I read that the author doesn’t see himself as the lead either. I’m afraid I was starting to pass judgement on him, based on the character. However, its done nothing to deter the idea that I missed out on a lot in my teen years..