Party of One

Dave Holmes has spent his life on the periphery, nose pressed hopefully against the glass, wanting just one thing: to get inside. Growing up, he was the artsy son in the sporty family. At his all-boys high school and Catholic 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, naturally, in the Wanna Be a VJ contest, opening the door to fame, fortune, and celebrity—you know,almost. 

In Party of One, Holmes tells the hilariously painful and painfully hilarious tales—in the vein of Rob Sheffield, Andy Cohen, and Paul Feig—of an outsider desperate to get in, of a misfit constantly changing shape, of a music geek who finally learns to accept himself. Structured 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 punctuated with interludes like “So You’ve Had Your Heart Broken in the 1990s: A Playlist” and “Notes on (Jesse) Camp,” this book is for anyone who’s ever felt like a square peg, especially those who have found their place in the world around a band, an album, or a song. It’s a laugh-out-loud funny, deeply nostalgic story about never fitting in, never giving up, and letting good music guide the way.

I grew up in the MTV generation, but I didn’t actually watch all that much MTV. We lived far enough out in the country to not have the town cable–we had the Farmer Five. I only got to see TRL when hanging out with my friends after school, making glitter shirts for the basketball games, or fake AIM profiles to catfish our crushes. (I mean…no we didn’t ever do that. Of course not.)

I didn’t have a clue who Dave Holmes was, so I had originally passed on Party of One on BFB. But Nicole raved about it, and I knew I would know the music, that was my JAM. So I figured I’d give it a shot.

And sorry, Dave. I still don’t really know who you are. But I loved your book anyway. It’s so goddamn nostalgic that I can almost feel my 8th grade awkwardness seeping through my pores. OMG make it stop. I want to go back through and build a playlist from every single song he mentioned. I might just do that tonight.

I’ve been in a bit of a book slump, so it took me three days to read this–but I think normally it would have been a quick read. The chapters are witty and the stories are just vulgar enough to amuse my raunchy sense of humor. I don’t know if Holmes plans on writing more humoristic memoir, but I hope so!


Blogging for Books provided a copy of this book for an unbiased review. All links are affiliate links.


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