“Joseph Newcomer has constructed a time machine. His book “El Camino Blue” is not a period piece in the rigid sense, but it tells a tale of youth in the 1990s in a way that I’ve not encountered elsewhere, and it is a very real, nostalgic, loving depiction of a time I know and recall vividly. His characters are the same that many of us meet on our way to becoming adults, and they are more than characters, they are his (and our ) friends. His writing gives them life and breath in a way that challenges any writer. His character Joe has wonderful back-and-forths with them throughout the book, and every exchange is better-crafted than most. They are rarely pure drama or comedy, as it is in real life, the moments you share with friends are both – discussions of the highest import are interjected with snide insults and sarcasm that only further express the complexity and subtlety of human interaction. He’s painted his characters with a depth and realism that belie this being his first book.
The settings are given thoughtful treatment, as well. The homes of our characters are distinctly appropriate, especially the room of Alex – I’ve sat in that same impressively arranged girl’s room before, and it was a welcome return to those thoughtfully curated, cluttered walls and cielings. I enjoyed the poetry as the fields and meadows beyond the edge of Erie were depicted, and the lake shore gave life to a wonderful scene of realization about the shallowness of infatuation that so often masquerades as love when we’re young.
I hope to read more of Joseph’s work in the future, as I tore through these 216 pages in matter of hours one weekend. It is a great start to what I hope will become a career and a series of books for me to selfishly enjoy.” – Sperry – Phoenix, AZ