Friday, January 17, 2014

Plunging into adulthood with 'Kids These Days'

When his wife was pregnant with their first child, Drew Perry began writing his new novel, “Kids These Days.” It’s about a soon-to-be father who is unsure he wants to have kids.

So yes, real-life parallels abound. The author and his protagonist, Walter, shared similar feelings about impending fatherhood. “I was equal parts selfish and terrified,” Perry told me recently. “My great disaster scenario was I’m going to have to get up early for the rest of my life.”

But all has ended well. Perry, 39, overcame his angst, marriage intact. He and his wife, writer Tita Ramirez, now have two sons, ages 3 and 11 months, and Kirkus Reviews calls Perry’s new novel, “Kids These Days” (Algonquin; $14.95), a “funny, frenzied tale of a terrified man plummeting helplessly into his own adulthood.”

Perry lives in Greensboro and teaches at Elon University. With this novel, along with his well-reviewed first book, “This Is Just Exactly Like You,” he’s earning numerous kudos as a fresh comic voice. He'll read and sign copies  at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 23, at Park Road Books, 4139 Park Road.

As “Kids These Days” begins, Walter and his wife, Alice, are in fresh-start mode. Walter has lost his mortgage job in Charlotte, so they’ve moved to Florida, where they can live rent free in a beachfront condo that had belonged to Alice’s late great-aunt.

With baby on the way, Walter takes a job with his brother-in-law, Middleton, who has four girls, a giant house and multiple businesses, including new ice-distribution kiosks called Twice-the-Ice because they deliver twice what you’d get at a gas station.

When Middleton, known as Mid, enlists Walter to help launch the new ice venture, we get an only-in-Florida scene:
“Mid and I each bought probably twenty dollars of ice the first day we had the thing up and running. We gave bags away for free to anybody who came up to see what was going on. … We gave bag after bag to people w
ho weren’t prepared to take them, who put them sweating and melting into their trunks, down onto their floorboards. Mid said the thing about it being twice the ice was that even if they lived a long way away, they still had an even chance of there being a regular amount of ice left by the time they made it home.”

When the novel ends, Mid’s life has unraveled in shocking ways, but Walter seems ready for fatherhood. Perry says if his oldest son ever reads “Kids These Days,” he already has a good idea about what he’ll tell him: “I won’t have any trouble saying it’s not that I didn't want you. It's just that I didn't want anybody but me. I had to grow out of that.”


Unknown said...

Ages 3 and 11 months, and everything is "just fine?" I am quite sure that everything is just fine. Nothing better than the years where the kid is immobile, can't talk, and is simply eating and sleeping. Fasten your seatbelt Holmes, you got two decades of fun comin your way!