You may remember Dave Holmes as the guy who came in second place in MTV’s first Wannabe a VJ contest to Jesse Camp, but managed to walk away with a job at the network anyway. I certainly remember him from those days, when his affable demeanor made him a lot more accessible than anyone else on MTV at the time, especially Jesse Camp, who mercifully faded away after a year. Anyway, Holmes uses that experience as something of a metaphor for his life in Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs. He presents himself as a lovably awkward hero who can’t really catch a break but keeps on truckin’ anyway. It makes for a fun, quick read.
Party of One is also a great read for anyone who grew up LGBT in the days before Ellen or the It Gets Better campaign, when struggling with one’s identity was a profound and confusing experience. I was a teenager in the 90s and felt many of the same emotions Holmes did when he was growing up and coming out, so I appreciate his story all the more for its openness and honesty about this time of his life, and his continued struggles to find his place as a gay man even as an adult.
Everything from Holmes’ childhood in St. Louis through his days living in Los Angeles trying to make it as an actor as a former VJ is wonderful and funny, but the last quarter of the book begins to feel like it loses focus, or as though Holmes is rushing to the finish line. If I’m being honest, the memoir-as-mix tape angle also didn’t quite gel for me either, since there’s really not much connection to the songs that frame the 21 chapters aside from a sometimes tenuous thematic connection. Still, I quite enjoyed this book and found it to be a breezy, easy read.
Full disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free from Amazon in exchange for a review. That did not have any impact on my perception of the quality, I assure you.