Review: 33 Days […] by Bill See

      33 Days: Touring In A Van, Sleeping On Floors, Chasing A Dream
(Buy the Paperback from Lulu)

Bill See; Published April 2011 by Lulu (first published February 2nd 2011)
For 33 days in the summer of 1987, Divine Weeks toured in a beat up old Ford Econoline van, sleeping on strangers’ floors, never sure they’d make enough gas money to get them to the next town. This deeply personal, coming of age, on the road memoir follows critically acclaimed 80s indie alt rock band Divine Weeks’ first tour. Liberated from alcoholic upbringings and rigid cultural constraints, all they have is their music and each other’s friendship. The road is filled with yuppies, brothels, riots, sleeping on floors, spiked drinks, DJs with no pants, and battles with racism. They set out on the road to discovery to drink in all they could and maybe sell a few records. They grew up instead.
 – Goodreads on 33 Days […] 

I was very cautious going into this experience, I guarded myself quite well. For some reason, I was utterly afraid such a story would become the epic of debauchery and over-glorified rock-godly human figures, which is, you know, fine by me, as long as we get to see pictures of it 😀 Seriously though, I was very guarded before actually starting to read it.
 And then, after the first few pages, I was completely disarmed. To my stupor, it wasn’t the epic of people becoming rock gods, but of young(ish) people becoming functional (I hate the term!), successful grown-ups. And the story, or should I say stories, proved to be incredibly touching, and agonizingly real. All that struggle, all that passion just sweeps you off your feet. Just like that, I was totally on board. We could have gone on a 4 years long tour, I was on board for that; 33 days suddenly felt too little, precious little no doubt, but little none the less.

The first hand account makes a strong impact, without a doubt. Pictures sprinkled here and there along the way really compliment the story in a beautiful way. It’s a constant reminder these are peoples lives you’re peeking into, not some fantasy story, not some ,delightful as it is, fiction. It feels so incredibly real, and vibrant, and quite breathtaking here and there.

Following the events, I was constantly reminded of my artist (especially musicians) friends, and their struggles. And it struck me the struggling artist is a phrase that will never get old, no matter how times change, no matter how societies evolve (or involve, as the case may be for some).
 When I was done reading this lovely novel, I just had to get a hold of a few of my friends I haven’t talked to in what seems like ages, just to see how they’re doing in the grown-up world. Few, I find, have the courage Bill See has, his strength. More often then not, they abandon that dream, and after all that struggle, all that enthusiasm and creative brewing, only the memory remains, or even that is overlooked somehow. The pains of “growing up”, of going from dreaming to doing, from becoming to being are a heinous necessity.

All in all, I’d say this is a brilliant read, though I caution, it can give you bouts of melancholy. It had that effect on me, that’s for sure. If I’d have to pick a favorite moment, out of all of them, it would be Epilogue 3.
 And my absolute favorite quote would be the last paragraph, words to live by.

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