“A Trip Down Reality Lane” by Ian Thomas Malone

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College life can be tough…

For a junior pursuing a degree in English with no plans for his future, living in the present is far better than the alternative.

One morning he wakes up and embarks on an acid trip to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts with two of his friends.

A step outside reality might be the best way to come back down to earth…

Along the way, the three friends discover what matters most to them, and more importantly, that life is not so much about answers as it is about the exploration of the questions.

When the real world doesn’t quite cut it, take a journey down the rabbit hole.

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Interview with the Author:

Ian Thomas Malone

  • Why do you write?

It’s a very natural process for me. When I get an idea, I let it grow until it’s ready to come out.

  • Which novelists do you admire?

Many. William Faulkner, Kurt Vonnegut, Philip K. Dick, Vladimir Nabokov, P.G. Wodehouse, and George R.R. Martin are a few of my favorites. From a contemporary standpoint, I have a lot of respect for Rainbow Rowell’s style and ability to market her work.

  • What inspired you to write such a unique “coming of age” book?

The fact that it was unique! That can be hard in today’s market. I wanted to write a coming of age story that felt refreshing.

  • You are still early in your writing career; what do you see for yourself in the next year?

I start grad school in September so I’m still figuring out how I’ll incorporate my writing into that. I have some shorter projects that I hope to work on as well as some finished work that hasn’t been published yet.

  • What is your favorite genre to write/read?

I bounce around. I almost never read consecutive books from the same genre. I do have a soft spot for reading fantasy as well as writing from the Beat generation. As far as writing goes, most of my work is contemporary. I have plans to expand into other genres in the future, including a sci-fi epic!

  • Who is your target audience?

I’d say I write for a younger audience, but I’ve found that my writing resonates well with older generations. Reviewers have noted that I have an “old soul.” I hope that’s true!

  • What is your biggest challenge when writing?

It’s harder to drown out what’s going on in your life, especially now that I have multiple books out. We’ve all got other things to worry about, which makes staying on track all the more difficult.

  • What habits do you employ to be a successful writer?

Set (realistic) deadlines for yourself. That encourages me to stay on track. By now I know what I’m capable of doing in terms of word counts and scheduling so it’s usually a matter of maintaining the structure required to actually get it done.

  • What advice can you offer an aspiring writer?

Enjoy the process. Writing a book is hard, especially your first book. You’ll get frustrated. You’ll feel self-doubt (that doesn’t go away). If you’re writing a book, it’s presumably because you enjoy writing. Don’t forget that even when the times are tough.

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My Review

I was skeptical reading a book about a person “planning” an acid trip with a couple of friends…do I really want to read about someones first hand experience on a hallucinogen? I kept picturing Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen in “Knocked Up” the movie, ingesting shrooms in Vegas while watching Cirque Du Soleil…I didn’t know if I want to read that…? However, I have had little success in resisting a “coming of age” story, especially one with a unique premise.

Our main character is a young man in his junior year of a college in Boston. He wakes up one morning…

“Misery. Pure misery. Mixed in with just a dab of hatred for life. That just about describes how my Saturday morning began. I’m not entirely sure what I consumed last night, but the wonderful combination seems completely irrelevant now that I’m facing the consequences of my actions.”

Grabbing? Check. Relatable? Check. Realistic? Check. You’ve got me reading. As I continue reading it is evident that our young English major is not only in pain from his previous nights adventures, but is starting to feel the pressures of adulthood. In effort to jump start his creative muse and relax in his own skin, he and his friends, Charles and James, have planned to ingest acid, attend the Museum of Fine Arts and then The Lion King movie. As our narrator fumbles through the fog of the groups high, he periodically finds himself pondering his purpose in life.

What starts as an edgy young adult coming of age tale, transgresses into a simple account of someones day. As far as adventure, the most exciting events consist of one friend pretending to be tour guide and a the failed attempt at picking up the hot museum attendant. The adventure continues as Malone describes each wing of the museum, followed closely by the hallucinated version and finally any coherent dialogue between the characters fill the gaps.

The author fails to deliver on a few key elements, specifically “show, don’t tell.” As a reader, I became cross eyed with the amount of explanation given for each thought and action. I can appreciate the creative reach Malone attempted, but I believe he fell short.

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