Pepsi-cola Addict by June Alison Gibbons
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh my god, I cannot believe I have a copy of this book. Sure, it's a photocopy. It's still worth its wait in gold.
Update: I've just finished this book! If the story behind it weren't so intriguing, I never would have read it, but I'm glad I did, because it is a fabulously bad book. It's so sincerely bad, reading it was hard. At a mere 130 pages, I should have finished it in a matter of days, but the prose is so indulgent and...let's face it, bizarre, it took me longer than it should have.
The Pepsi-Cola Addict was printed by a vanity press with no editing or even basic grammar checking whatsoever (at one point, my eye shocked over the word "penin," only to realise the sentence was about a pen in someone's pocket). It is about a white Malibu teenage boy named Preston who is, quite literally, addicted to Pepsi-Cola. He faces many trials due to his addiction; his girlfriend dumps him, ostensibly over the fact that he won't stop drinking Pepsi-Cola. He begs her to come back, claiming he's done with that stuff. He gets caught robbing a convenience store because long after the alarms have gone off and the police sirens rush toward the store, he waits around drinking several cans of Pepsi-cola. He doesn't get a trial or even a phone call before he's in the prison laundry, sucking on freshly laundered, still-wet sheets, trying to quench his thirst for Pepsi-Cola
Preston is an odd teenager, mostly because of how much he, his sister, and his friends "amble" around. He gets seduced by his teacher, gets sexually threatened by the "warder" at the juvenile detention centre. In fact, no one can leave Preston alone; even his best friend can't help himself around Preston. It's hard times, because all Preston wants is some damn Pepsi-cola and his ex-girlfriend back, but she's planning to move away. Life's full of bad luck, and it's enough to make a guy want to drink 3 Pepsi-Colas. Against the odds, but a touch too late, Preston manages to get the girl back. It's tragedy.
Better than the convoluted plot is the writing-- here are my favourite bits:
Gibbons grew up in cold grey Wales, but the book is all about Malibu. It's clear that June had an excellent grasp of Malibu's climate: the sun is several times described, aptly, as a "fireball in the sky." It's so literal!
"Preston thought; life is a confusement."
When he's at the juvenile detention centre, Preston's mother visits him. She asks him how he's doing, and he says, "It's pretty noisy.....the place is like a prison camp." Excellent observational skills.
It's not a great book, but it's not famous for being a great book either. It doesn't have the star appeal or even the "written from behind asylum walls" intrigue of Save Me the Waltz. But it's an extremely rare piece of cultural history, an important door to one of the strangest stories of sisterhood the world has ever known. I'm proud to have read it.
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