Jett Bennett lives in the super-hip Barter Neighborhood of New York City in her grandmother’s rent-controlled apartment. Barter neighborhood is filled with people loosely connected, sort of friends, and they all trade goods and are ironically into retro things. One of Jett’s sort-of friends is her downstairs neighbor Kit-Kat, who bakes “enhanced” brownies (everybody from Oregon got that) and trades in old video games. Jett gets a mix-tape in her mailbox meant for Kit-Kat, and when she takes it to her, she finds her neighbor lying in front of her pink oven, her head bashed in with her marble rolling pin.
Jett wanted to be a music journalist but the only job she’s found is temping as a proofreader for a team of private detectives. She and her best friend, Sid, love binge-watching TV cop shows, so when Kit-Kat’s sister tearfully begs her to find the real killer, she agrees, even asking her boss for tips. And so begins a story that is part ‘tec novel and part hipster commentary and part funny and part sad and all in all a novel about love and community, connections, and what it means to truly know another human being.
Libby Cudmore is a great writer, and she make me wish I knew more music. She’s great at descriptions too. One example: “The bar was a Tom Waits song come to life: cramped and dimly lit with rickety tables…and a pull-knob cigarette machine.” (128) There’s an echo of the classic noir styles of Raymond Chandler or Erle Gardner in her writing style, but she’s also very modern and ironic, and pulls no punches when it comes to looking for love.
The Big Rewind also comments on what it means to really be friends in our age of social media when no one needs to ever lose touch with everyone. Jett, musing on lost loves, makes the connection between her generation’s love of vinyl records and vintage aprons, with the fact that nothing digital ever needs to be thrown away, that there are no used mp3 stores where you can flip through other people’s song choices.
The Big Rewind is funny, moving, tender and hard-boiled at times too. Whether it’s a group of hipsters collecting egg-free and casein-free cookies for a friend who’s in trouble, or Jett and Sid microwaving dinner from Trader Joe’s while he tells her how he’s found true love with a stripper who has a trust fund and is getting a degree in womyns’ studies, the plot has lots to enjoy. Yet it manages to muse on the meaning of true love without slipping too far into sentimentality–although I would like to have seen some long-term relationships make the cut. All in all, it’s an enjoyable read that I highly recommend as a fun way to pass the weekend. And it will make you get out your vinyl–or at least your old music from high school and college, and relive the days when a mix tape was better than talking about your feelings.
Heather J says
“in our age of social media when no one needs to ever lose touch with everyone” This is something that I really love about social media – I feel connected to so many people, even if only in a superficial way.
Thanks for being a part of the tour!