At 36, Never Mind Nirvanas Protagonist is Stuck Between Adolescence and Adulthood
Make no mistake, Mark Lindquist is not Pete Tyler, though occasionally reviewers seem to forget that.
Lindquist, the real-life author of the novel Never Mind Nirvana in which Pete Tyler is a fictional character, says that interviewers usually begin with a separation of the two of them, but at some point [me and my character] just merge. He is not bothered by the confusion, however. The book sort of invites the comparison because there are some obvious similarities, he explains. I dont mind.
That there are similarities is true. Both are in their late 30s; both are prosecuting attorneys; both were born and raised in Seattle. Both became lawyers after pursuing a flashier careerLindquist was a screenwriter in Hollywood, Pete Tyler was in a moderately successful grunge band.
Writer by Day Lawyer by Night
Once Lindquist arrives for his interview, however,
its clear that the comparison ends there. While
Pete is confused and insecuregrown up lawyer by
day, arrested adolescent by night, Lindquist comes across
as confident and easygoing as he talks about the
frustration he experienced writing screenplays and his
decision to leave that all behind in order to go to law
Moving Beyond the Brat Pack
For a time in the late 80s Lindquist occupied a space among a group of writers known as the brat pack (a label he says hes happy to leave behind), which included Bret Easton Ellis, Jay McInerney, etc. But after writing a second novel, Carnival Desires, and over a dozen screenplays, none of which were produced, Lindquist says he hit a wall. I wanted to take a break from writing, he says. I had two choices [one was] to go bum around EuropeI seriously considered thatand the other was to go to law school finally. In the end, law school won. Since I knew I wasnt going to be writing, Lindquist explains, I thought I should at least do something semi-constructive. Besides, I'm a workaholic.
Given his past, it is perhaps no surprise that choice is at the heart of Lindquists latest novel. Or in Petes case, the inability to choose: between youth and adulthood, between a steady relationship and casual sex, between past and present. When a local band member is accused of date rape, and the case lands on Petes desk, he must finally commit. When he does, he finds himself on the opposite of many of his friends. [The book] is about a guy having to leave one world and move on to the next, Lindquist says. One of the fundamental story lines is about making a choice. One of the motifs that reoccurs about a billion times is bridges; everywhere you look theres a freaking bridge.
Making Transitions in Life
The character of Beththe mysterious ex-girlfriend Pete tries to track down, best represents this transition from one life to the next. Once she is introduced, were waiting for them to meetfor Pete to either realize that love transcends time, age, and law school, or for him to learn that he cant go back, he must finally accept that he is a grown-up living in a grown-up world.
But Lindquist (thankfully) avoids both of these clichés. Beth never appears, and Pete decides that looking for her is pointless anyway. In searching for something hes not going to find, and that cannot be found, hes missing some other possibilities, Lindquist says. I think recognizing that is a step in the right direction And even though it should seem obvious to all of us that chasing down your old flame is not going to solve anything, Beths representative of other things that we chase that arent going to solve anything.
Along with Beth two other women in the book represent different paths on Petes journeyWinter, the stripper-friend he occasionally sleeps with, and Esmé, a down-to-earth record executive. Esmé is the grown-up, Winter is the old life, Lindquist explains. I hate to think of characters as representing things, but then I look at my own life and there are people who are real people, but who are representative of different aspects of my personality.
A Counterpart to The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing
Pete Tyler is not the first 30-something character in
contemporary fiction to look for meaning (early publicity
touted Nirvana as the male response to The
Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing.) But there
is one fundamental difference (Warning: stop here if you
dont want the ending revealed): though he decides
early in the book that getting married will bring him the
security he seeks (though he has no idea to whom), Pete
doesnt ride off into the sunset with Ms. Right.
Though Lindquist has avoided the standard love-conquers-all ending he is by no means a cynic when it comes to matters of the heart. Love may not conquer all, he says But I think the search for love is a good thing. Yet another reminder of just how different Lindquist is from the angst-ridden character hes created.