By Jan Richman
Tupelo Press, 2012
A journalist, named Jan Richman, is working for BadMouth Magazine when she gets an assignment to research and write about roller coasters nearing their demise. Richman begins with the Coney Island Cyclone, then visits the Kukwa-dan in Houston, the Tumbler in Salt Lake City and ends up on the Giant Dipper in Mission Beach, California. She chronicles her visits to, and her rides on, each roller coaster, encountering a unique collection of tour guides along the way. Woven between the roller coaster chapters are coming-of-age reflections of Jan growing up in California with a father who has Tourette’s. The book culminates with the Mission Beach ride and her widower father’s second marriage to a woman 30 years his junior.
An acclaimed poet, Richman (the author) has an insightful and engaging narrative voice, and a beautiful use of language. I found myself reading passages out loud, I was so taken with her prose. This is a character-driven, desultory story. When Jan is not riding roller coasters, she has sex New Orleans, does Karaoke with teenage girls in Houston, and gets a lap dance and meets a Spanish conceptual artist in Vegas. Jan is an adventurous spirit, willing to jump into any new situation. And since the story is told from a very close first person point of view, I felt very close to her on the page.
I bought the e-book version of this title. This is Tupelo Press’s first e-book.