Other than knowing what we are getting absolutely everyone for the holidays now, Shader’s biggest impact upon us is how utterly relatable it is. The experiences with finding oneself amidst an environment that seems stifling and rich with characters all at once is well-worn literary territory that Nester manages to make seem completely new…and familiar to our own experiences.
Did you read that headline?
Read it again.
I have a PUNK PERSPECTIVE!
As Fear’s Lee Ving says in The Decline of Western Civilization, “yous all suck–who don’t think so?”
Neat little interview with Jeff Wilkin from Schenectady’s Daily Gazette. I will never like any photos of me, but I like the one that went with this because it’s in my office and it has my cherished “Daniel from Williamsburg has joined our staff” poster. Wilkin’s favorite New Wave band was XTC and we nerded out over music; I’m surprised an actual interview could be culled from our conversation.
The interview is behind a paywall, but here’s an excerpt:
Q: How did “Shader” come to life?
A: I decided a couple years ago I’d like to write a coming-of-age memoir. I just felt really compelled to tell the story of growing up in South Jersey as a blue collar kid in a blue collar town with a kind of a crazy dad who discovered record stores and figures out what he’s going to do with his life.
I found myself telling the small stories, little stories, writing little “memoirettes” and essays about that time. I guess maybe five or six years ago, they started to look like they made sense all together, so that’s how “Shader” came to be.
I think I figured out a couple of common themes. One is my father, who passed away a couple years ago — that’s sort of a moment when you realize there’s a bit of a bookend to part of your life. Another is becoming a father, another is thinking about growing up in this town Maple Shade.
Q: You were into the punk rock scene in those days?
A: I was a poser, I was a wannabe, I think, growing up in a town like Maple Shade where the posers and punkers were few and far between. I think it was pretty tribal. It was definitely a classic rock kind of town.
Q: What kinds of problems did you have? People chasing you down the street?
A: The book has a couple of fist fights that I got into, things like that, nothing terribly illegal. But yeah, it was a tough town and I was a sensitive kid. But it was also a town that was tight-knit, everybody knew each other.
Q: Did you have the punk rock hair? Black Flag buttons in your lapel?
A: I had like a Duran Duran mullet, with sun-in blond hair. I might have worn a fedora to look like a member of Duran Duran.
Q: C’mon, Duran Duran wasn’t a punk band!
A: Exactly. I was a poser.
Here’s the link to photo and the full thing in case it come out of the paywall someday.
Around Maple Shade, people still refer to me as “Meri Nester’s brother.” Meredith Ann Nester’s look perfectly suited the early-1980s: long, blonde hair (enhanced by Sun-In), Bongo jeans from Merry-Go-Round, cut sweat shirts, and jelly pumps. I wore husky Wranglers, tube socks, and glasses that remained tinted indoors. Meri made varsity cheerleading by eighth grade. I played trombone and sent away for free pamphlets from the Consumer Information Catalog. Meri was the barefoot girl in Bruce Springteen’s “Jungleland” who sat on the hood of a Dodge and drank warm beer in the soft summer rain. I’m the misfit who listened to Rush’s “Subdivisions,” and wondered how a Canadian band knew that the suburbs had no charms to soothe the restless dreams of my youth.
If Meri Nester reacted to Maple Shade like I did, I might not have gone crazy. But she didn’t react to Maple Shade like I did. And so I did go crazy.
Writer Daniel Nester says that if he gets a bit full of himself, “a little ‘Shader’ appears on my shoulder to cut through the pretension.”
“Shader” is South Jersey-speak for a native or resident of Maple Shade, the proudly unpretentious Burlington County burb that provides the title and much of the setting for Nester’s pungent new memoir.
“Being a Shader is about being no-nonsense and having a blue-collar outlook,” Nester, 47, says from the College of St. Rose in Albany, N.Y., where he is an associate professor of English. “It’s an attitude, but it’s also like my conscience.”
Deftly written in brisk chapters with names like “Notes on Shader Record Nerds,” Shader (99: The Press) is Nester’s fifth book. Earlier publications include poetry and humor collections, as well as two volumes of ruminations on the band Queen.
Wednesday, January 1, 1992. I greet the New Year from Derek’s cold concrete floor on East 37th Street. Black drapes enshroud the place in darkness and silence, save red lights and random bleeps from a wall of electronics.
I’m still stoned from last night, where I helped Derek DJ a party for Skidmore students who rented a space on Jane Street. At one point we played “Walking on Sunshine” three times in a row while the party host, dressed in tan khakis and a rugby shirt, stood beside our booth, arms crossed.
We suspected cocaine was involved.