The Summer of Crud
by Jonathan LaPoma
Almendro Arts

"Everything got so dark and heavy, all I could do was hit delete. It was then I realized for the first time, clear as fucking day: Nobody loves the insane."

In the summer following their graduation, Danny and Ian embark on a road trip across America to Mexico where they will study the world's most active volcano. Or at least that's the plan. For Danny, the trip is a journey of self-discovery, a search for the spirit of the 60s and the soul of America. It's one last hurrah before the two succumb to an "adult" life with responsible jobs and active places in society. As they travel through the American Midwest, they visit old friends and party hard. But will this drug-fueled, crazy trip help Danny deal with his inner demons, or will it only make the voices in his head yell ever louder until they consume him?

The Summer of Crud is a dream-like haze described colloquially through Danny's point of view. Danny is an unlikely protagonist: he's socially inept, has implied mental health issues, and has trouble defecating. If this last one seems odd, it feels perfectly natural in the context of this odd adventure. These bathroom problems are described in disgusting detail, yet they're made out to be a real issue which feeds into the embarrassment he seems to feel for simply existing. Throughout the trip, Danny examines his relationship with Ian; He daydreams about his abandoned music career, name-dropping many classic bands and artists which then play in the reader's mind like a soundtrack to accompany the trip; and he wonders what will happen to him if he lets the demons in his head drown out the music. The story touches on the themes of insanity, social anxiety, and the juxtaposition of the freedom of the road against the constraints of the car and Danny's own body. The novel is like a bad trip—filthy in all sorts of ways, yet weirdly endearing.

Return to USR Home