'Please Don't Shoot Anyone Tonight'

The characters in Dave Newman’s novel "Please Don’t Shoot Anyone Tonight" are a very long way from finding harmony.



Lou Reed famously penned these lines about our fair city: “There is only one good thing about a small town / You know that you want to get out.” He was writing specifically about Andy Warhol, but the desire to escape the limited vistas, the hemmed-in and narrow streets, the hometown skyline that is so familiar that it has become oppressive is a universal one.

I can remember watching as my friends from high school, one by one, bid their adieus to the Steel City, and I keenly felt the yearning to join them in their exciting new lives far from here. Eventually, whether we leave or stay, most of us make our peace with our hometowns.

The characters in Dave Newman’s novel Please Don’t Shoot Anyone Tonight are a very long way from finding this kind of harmony. Dan and Matt are a couple of 17-year-olds just barely making their way through high school in the late 1980s. Their main concerns are heavy metal, skipping class, drinking cheap brews and raiding the medicine cabinets of their friends’ parents.

They are the residents of your typical teenage wasteland until Matt gets his girlfriend, Susan, pregnant. In their panic, Matt and Susan bring the problem to Dan, who decides the only solution is to rob the paint store where he works and use the money to pay for an abortion. No one questions Dan’s logic.

Matt said, “Unbelievable.” He sat up and found a beer. He popped the top and drank. He looked like someone had shoveled fuel back into the engine of his body. He said, ‘I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this.’”

“I know,” Dan said, though I easily could have said, “I really appreciate this.’” This: The chance to become a criminal. This: The chance to pay for an abortion. That’s how it was, being 17. Things spun backward and got confused.

Dan is looking for a way out. His parents are scraping by in low-paying jobs they don’t like in an economy that has yet to trickle down. His home life is marked by the instability and eruptions of violent arguments that money worries bring.

The opportunity to step outside this familiar world into the realm of the criminal sounds pretty cool to Dan. His primary points of reference for dealing with the very adult concerns now thrust upon himself and his friends are the Hollywood action movie and the quasi-literate lyrics of Motley Crue and Guns & Roses.

Newman does a nice job of depicting teenage aimlessness. The bulk of the book follows Dan and Matt as they tool around town avoiding the problem of Susan’s pregnancy altogether. These scenes where the boys drink and carouse, and attempt to put off adulthood feel the most real.

In contrast, the crime element of the novel, which disappears almost entirely until the last few pages, seems contrived and tacked on—an unnecessary pulp gambit that actually distracts from a fine character study.


Please Don't Shoot Anyone Tonight by Dave Newman; World Parade Books; $10.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


See the Video Pittsburgh Hopes Will Lure Amazon's HQ2

See the Video Pittsburgh Hopes Will Lure Amazon's HQ2

The video is part of the city's effort to snag Amazon's second headquarters, which is expected to bring 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment..

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Parts & Service Adds Pizza To Superior Motors

Parts & Service Adds Pizza To Superior Motors

Executive Chef Kevin Sousa and Pastry Chef Kate Carney are cooking sourdough pizza in an outdoor brick oven.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Meet the Winner of Our 2017 Cutest Pet Contest

Meet the Winner of Our 2017 Cutest Pet Contest

The winner received the most votes among five dogs, four cats and a bunny.

Comments


A Mysterious (But Messy) Night at the Museum with DODO

A Mysterious (But Messy) Night at the Museum with DODO

A review of "DODO," the immersive-theater production currently taking place at the Carnegie Museums by Bricolage Production Company.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
It's What Steelers Do After Kansas City That Matters

It's What Steelers Do After Kansas City That Matters

The team is more than capable of beating the Bengals Sunday, but are they willing to keep their eye on the ball long enough to begin stacking victories again for a change?

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

#Gottahaveit: Take It To the Hoop

Robert Hallett, Goldsmith, handcrafts the jewelry in his Oakmont shop.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Firefighter Flick Only the Brave is a Moving Tribute

Firefighter Flick Only the Brave is a Moving Tribute

Reviews of "Only the Brave" and "The Florida Project," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
The Pick of the Patch: Pumpkin-Themed Proposals

The Pick of the Patch: Pumpkin-Themed Proposals

In honor of fall, we’re showcasing three couples whose proposals involved one of the best things about the season: pumpkins.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Holiday How-To: Upgrade Your Fall Decor with Advice from Local Experts

Holiday How-To: Upgrade Your Fall Decor with Advice from Local Experts

Interior designers share their tips on creating easy, elegant décor that will take you from Halloween through Thanksgiving.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

Tuition Increases at the University of Pittsburgh

School trustees voted this week to increase tuition for in-state and out-of-state students.

Comments

Edit Module

Edit Module