Music writer, HM columnist and publicist Jameson Ketchum has penned his first novella, Echo Boom. In addition to writing for HM, he has turned in pieces for Substream, AMP and New Noise, cutting his teeth before moving on to public relations. His firm, The Cadence, Inc., represents a number of national music acts.
Echo Boom began when he was in college at Western Oregon University, evolving along the way to being published but retaining the themes of nostalgia, friendship, grief and what it means to leave a legacy. The piece follows Edward Caspian as he copes with a terminal illness, searching back through his 29 years with his best friend and successful musician Giles Green to write the great American novel, representing his generation accurately and to leave his legacy in its wake.
Today, HM is proud to premiere an exclusive excerpt from the work. The novella is available on Amazon.
November 27, 2014, 3:01 p.m.
Artists do not have any greater lives than us. They do not live on another cosmic plane where their events, tragedies and glories magnify themselves in an attempt to make all followers and admirers jealous. We are them. They are us. They simply develop a way to express and solidify these experiences into palatable trysts and lessons, albeit exaggerated, for general consumption. Whether met with mockery, disdain or misdirected worship, these creations are legacies. It is a trick, a red herring such as a pyramid scheme or the wholesomeness of matrimony. It is a false sense of completeness and achievement justified by the knowledge that you have a wealth of social media numbers and comments. The only true compliment that means anything occurs when you’re not in the room. The funny thing is that we elect these deities. We cast our vote by paying for the album, by downloading the book, by ripping our ticket and eating popcorn to our death’s before their silly game of dress up and pretend.
I am guilty of this as well. Every time a song comes on that I enjoy, or I read a line that I hate the author for thinking of before me, I imagine a utopic future where I’m the one on stage. Everything we do today is putting hope in the pot to work toward this artful fantasy where everyone is paying attention to us, unless however you are an extreme self-defeatist. For example, these fantasies, where I am free to imagine and contort and manipulate the very fabric of time and space and attractiveness are often ended prematurely when I imagine my friends watching, first in awe, then turning to one another in boredom, checking their watches, planning to leave early for dinner. I, not wanting to rock the boat or keep anyone in a state of obligation, apologize and end the show early.
Giles was the epitome of a gracious artist, generous without a hint of pretentiousness. His fame had come early and he handled it well, as if he had lucked into a life of excess and glory he never thought to pursue. His first big break came at the age of 20 when he broke off from his local band to record some toned down acoustic tracks. As it turns out, melancholy love stories over plucking guitars and strings sell more than fairy tales of trashing hotel rooms. Though he quickly rose to stardom, the only thing that changed was his bank account. He didn’t turn up with an entourage everywhere he went, he didn’t let his business and handlers interfere with his personal life and if you didn’t know him personally, you’d think he was just a librarian or janitor. He was a solid guy who I considered my closest friend, though I never got the impression he would reciprocate the title regarding me.
I had met Giles at fourteen, years before the grind of life would claim me as another nameless victim, years before Giles would be headlining stadiums, solo on stage with nothing but an acoustic guitar and his embellished stories set to rhythm. Giles was a born leader, an adult the day he was born. It was like he always knew he was meant for some great command. It was a wonder that him and I connected. I was a kid with no direction. I was writing in secret but was too afraid to tell anyone that words had accidently become my obsession. Honestly, it only began because I was the least bad at English class in school. It was all I wanted to do, but the fear was crippling. Giles might have been the first person to read anything I had written. Ironically, he was a gifted poet and songwriter who had no problem sharing his talent. It all came so natural to him.
Scribbling underneath my issued desk with the black Sharpie I kept with me at all times, I inscribed “Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself”. I know its cliché but inspiration is overused for a reason, it works.
The phone rings and all thought is lost. “Hartford Mowers, how can I help you?”
The next ten minutes is occupied by a long list of old person ailments and complaints about the current state of America’s lawn mowers. I go on autopilot and it’s over. When I’m able to snap back into my freshly saved notepad.doc I’ve already forfeited my previous idea of what sounds the most intellectual. All synapses have ceased firing and I retreat to YouTube for epic fails. All spontaneity has been traded as I reemerge in this gift we call “real life”, fingers crossed that no one will speak to me before I can put this line down on my paper screen. Rather than lose myself in plains of consciousness that might result in some sort of outcome that would benefit my future immensely, the grim reversal is engaged and I am once again typing my name over and over, hoping that by some wave of the proverbial magic wand, some dust would be blown from my given label to rub elbows with a new idea or even a fleeting sentiment of worth. No such luck.
I am thrown back into unreality with another phone call.
Most days, when inspiration decides to take a vacation, I am left to stare out my 3×3 office window, a tiny television set to a universe where I decide grand programs are taking place. I start “Moonlight Sonata” over again and again on my computer because I cannot stand the part where Beethoven’s fingers decide to get all happy and upbeat. Give me the slow crying shameful melody so I can continue to feel impoverished and tortured. Any Retweets yet? Nope, I’ll check again in 15 seconds. Who, in this privileged position of mild affluence and social frivolity, could even begin to earnestly desire a modest living at writing? I claim to have an imagination although we all know that any imagination is dangerous exaggeration, just like any photo you choose to post to social media is inherently a “throwback.”
The real debate here is whether or not I’ll be attending Harley’s party this evening. I’m not sure what we’re celebrating this time. It might be a birthday or it could just be an obligatory game night. Either way, the alternative is people-watching from my narrow porch, observing I should say. No need to take notes, if something truly inspiring happens there is no way it will escape this steel trap of mine. Maybe I’ll find a new character or add some attributes to an old dull one. The reason the party is in debate is because I fear that I will see nothing new. I know for a fact that I will either know or know and loathe anyone in attendance. This means two things: there will be no mysterious single friend there for me to meet and possibly fall in love with at first glance. Two; everything that occurs tonight I could predict, map out and fall asleep to right now. If there is no potential for something new, I automatically shut down. How can I be expected to write this American tale if I don’t experience anything new and strange? I better just stay home tonight and brainstorm.