Time and Place
I finished reading some book that AMP lent me. A bit of fluff called "Sex and Blood and Rock'n'Roll" which was about a punk rock Dominatrix from the East Village turned Serial Killer. Blah blah blah. I didn't find the sex that erotic, or the violence that shocking - am I that blase, or was I just unable to get past the utterly terrible writing style, the unoriginal story or the tediously obvious psychological "backstory"?
And worst of all, it was set in NYC Punk Bohemia of the early to mid 90s, just exactly around the time that I was there.
And it just got it all so pathetically... wrong. I found it too distracting, laughing at the "cool" culture references - Coney Island High, The Bank, The Pyramid Club, Don Hills - because by that point in time, they just *weren't* "cool" any more. Imagine trying to read a novel set in "cool" London of 2006 and finding the action all set in Camden.
This was, and this wasn't the NYC of my 20s. It was all the stuff I'd outgrown, or simply sneered at, gutterpunks and bridge and tunnel kids ran away from the suburbs who still hung out on St. Marks Place with their ker-azy punk hairdos. While the real hipper-than-thou "cool" action in 1995 was happening on Ludlow Street, the Lower East Side, down under the Brooklyn Bridge, and more specifically Williamsburg, which was, still genuinely edgy and subversive then, and hadn't yet turned into the Hipster Wonderland it is today.
That's the problem with trying to write a subculture novel that is set very much in time and place. If you get it wrong, that willing suspension of disbelief just snaps.
I've read books about that time and place that get it right - f*ck, I've forgotten the name of that book - about a woman whose relationship was disintergrating as she started drumming in indie bands of the East Village. And that book was so accurate it made me cry, even missing the smell of Tasty Fish Studios and the Luna Lounge and cups of peppermint tea at the Pink Pony.
Then again, maybe that's the thing about NYC. It's such a patchwork of villages, two people can live in the city at the same time, on the edges of the scenes, same place and same time, and live in a completely different world.