Holmes, Dave. “Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs”, Three Rivers Reprint, 2017.
An Outsider Who Wants To Be Inside
Former MTV VJ Dave Holmes, brings us his very funny memoir of a perpetual outsider searching for self-acceptance set against the music of the ’80s, ’90s, and today as his soundtrack. It seems that
Dave Holmes has spent his life on the periphery, wanting to get inside. Growing up, he was the artsy son in the sporty family. At school and college, he was the closeted gay kid surrounded by crush-worthy straight guys. And in his twenties, in the middle of a disastrous career in advertising, he accidentally became an MTV VJ overnight when he finished second in a contest. Holmes even went so far as to constantly change who he was— a music geek but then he finally accepted himself. This is a book especially for those who have found their place in the world and it is both very, very funny and deeply nostalgic; a story about never fitting in, never giving up, and “letting good music guide the way”. We once again see the importance of that line in Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” about memory and music.
All of us have at some times in our lives tried to fit in. Remember how we struggled in high school to be a member of the “A-List” groups only to discover that once we made it there was also an “A-list” plus group. If one has the right amount of human
human humility plus self-doubt, then this is a book for you. By reading about someone else’s hard times, we are helped with dealing with our own.
Holmes has the ability to immediately make friends with the reader and we remain right by his side during the read. Every time we open the book it is like having a reunion. What Holmes says here is smart, funny, self-deprecating and raw.
Reading his struggle to find himself when he was a teen helps others. The stories are filled with cultural references from the 80’s and 90’s and they are touching and thoughtful. He gives a voice to that younger, lonelier person that none of us have ever forgotten.
I didn’t watch MTV in the 90’s or at anytime as it was in its prime while I was living out of the country so that is not a measurement for me here. What is, however, is the relationships we form with each other and Holmes. Regardless of background or personal story, growing up and becoming an adult is difficult and we all experience it. Dave Holmes captures that beautifully and by sharing shared his own problems, he helps pave the way for other outsiders who want to be on the inside (and that is about 99% of us). However, I must say that this is a very specific book written for a specific audience. I do love that being gay is no longer the issue that it once was. Also, Holmes has the ability to slow moments and life down and thereby examine them to expose a but of truth. Holmes doesn’t shy away from discussing his early struggles with his sexuality as a closeted gay teen and he does so self-effacingly.