Comprised of 13 tales, Steve Anderson’s charming “1979” is a satisfying read through and through. These tales all depict coming-of-age for several characters in the deep of working-class America. However, the setting is only a stand-in for the universal feelings and themes that are introduced in each of the short stories, rife with characters who are tackling the difficult road to adulthood and coming to terms of understanding what their lot in life might be.
At the cusp of the decade that would see the birth of the personal computer and of punk music, each of the stories told by Anderson are about rebirth and recognition, to some extent. While the stark landscapes can come across as a bit disparate, the author manages to subvert the abandoned factories and rural surroundings and introduce characters that are not only realistic, but are, too, on the cusp of adulthood and a new age.
There are the requisite themes that are often present in coming-of-age novels, from innocent sexual awakenings to glimpsing the truths that lie hidden behind existing facades, both physically and literally. Some stories are bit more risque than others, but once again, the actions fit into the tone of each of the stories. And, strangely enough, the issues facing the characters in “1979” are very similar to the ones facing the kids of today’s technological age, albeit in slightly different contexts.
“1979” is a modern contemplation into what it means to mature and the importance of life experience in contributing to what the adult version of oneself will be. Good job, Anderson.