Holmes, Dave. “Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs”, Crown Archetype, 2016.
Pain With Humor, Humor With Pain
Dave Holmes has spent his life on the margins of society but always wanted to be in. He grew up as the artsy son in a family that loved sports and when he went to all boys’ high school and Catholic college, he was the closeted gay kid surrounded by straight guys. And in his twenties, while in a career in advertising, he accidentally became an MTV VJ overnight when he finished second in “Wanna Be a VJ” contest and this changed his life forever.
Holmes’s stories are painful and very funny, sometimes at the same time. He structures his story around a mix of hits and deep cuts from the last four decades—from Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” and En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” to LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” and Bleachers’ “I Wanna Get Better” and then punctuates it with interludes like “So You’ve Had Your Heart Broken in the 1990s: A Playlist” and “Notes on (Jesse) Camp.”
He has written this book for everyone who feels that they do not fit into their culture and society. The book will make you laugh, feel nostalgia and teach you something about music. Amid the humor and the pain of the stories, there are interesting things to learn about life and how to live it. We hear a different language than what we heard growing up different and we are told not to hide our differences but to love them.
Holmes had a somewhat unconventional upbringing and an unlikely road to the life he has now and it is a fun read about the guy who did not win the contest but got the job anyway. He is very clever the way he ties in his stories with a specific song from the era. As we read, we revisit cultural memories of our own . I knew nothing about Dave Holmes, yet I feel I got to know him in this book.