I just finished reading Buzz, the debut novel by indie writer Robert Zverina. The cover depicting an old school ride cruising by the dark side of the moon told me I was in for something special. I dived into the book without the slightest idea what it was even about. “Robert Zverina? Never heard of him.” I simply picked him up and started reading.
Immediately I encountered a laid back and confident writing style that was easy to get into. The story is told from the first point perspective of Buzz, a first generation born American from a Czech political refuge immigrant family. He’s telling you his story that begins even before he’s born. And he’s telling you it in the genuine voice of a blue collar guy, who’s sort of a charismatic underachiever. You get the impression of catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen in too many years gone by. Family, friends, lovers, life, he’s spilling his nostalgic guts.
Buzz transitions from being a wide eyed kid to grown man gracefully. Zverina effectively portrays the psychological development as Buzz progresses in his life, not only the main character’s, but the people that pass through his life as well. Their quirks and habits are on full display which lets the reader figure out what makes them tick. These people are alive. It’s an event when they enter Buzz’s life, and it is a subtle tragedy when they leave.
Zverina describes Buzz’s coming from an immigrant family is realistic manner. I myself am from an immigrant family so I know what it’s like to grow up that way. The dynamics of having a culture gap in one household are there. The accents, conflicts, miscommunications, and real life culture clashes move in real time. Buzz’s storytelling takes us Czechoslovakia, so that we experience the paranoid lives of his family living through the Cold War era, and then brings us back to America as if you snapped out of a daydream. I absolutely enjoyed the deep level of introspection into Buzz’s memories.
Buzz isn’t a cut and dry “slice of life” work. There’s this strange fascination with the lunar landing that infuses Buzz with thin veneer of magical realism. This adds a subtle metaphysical dimension that hides within the shadows of the book. Outer space becomes a metaphor that is mysterious as our subconscious. I will not ruin this element sharing my thoughts on it, though I will say that the dark side of the moon is a lonely place.
Buzz is a story about life, culture, fragility, and seeking refuge wherever it can be found, even if it’s in a pint of vodka. This is the recipe for a satisfying read. Some of those scenes are so vivid I can still see them in my head. It’s like a hangover that can still make me laugh or feel alone whenever I think about what I read. For being Zverina’s first book, it was very good. Mind you, like all new writers, he does have room for literary development. But if Buzz in any indication of where he’s taking his writing, I’ll be definitely reading his next work.
Buzz is available through Amazon and smashwords.com