SHADER: 99 Notes on Car Washes, Making Out in Church, Grief, and Other Unlearnable Subjects, is author Daniel Nester’s coming-of-age story that takes place in 70s and 80s-era Maple Shade, New Jersey.
There, “Shaders,” as the denizens of this Springsteen-esque middle-class town call themselves, work as teachers, hairdressers, cops, and truck drivers. They are suspicious of outsiders. They speak with a peculiar accent.
At home, Nester’s father, Navy veteran Mike, fills his son’s head with books, conspiracy theories, and get-rich-quick schemes.
In town and at school, Dan doesn’t fit in. But eventually he discovers music. Not just any music (he had been quite happy listening to Phil Collins and Foreigner), but punk music and New Wave. He hung out at a record store whenever he could. He became himself.
On this episode of Dan Reads Books, we talk about what it was like growing up in the Jersey suburbs, but also what it’s like, as a writer, to reflect back on a time long past. What’s the temptation to “clean up” a story where you’re definitely not the hero? How do you write about family when it’s intimate, or embarrassing? Who owns whose stories?
Nester is the author (and editor) of several other books, including How to Be Inappropriate, The Great Sestina Anthology, and God Save My Queen. He teaches writing at The College of St. Rose in Albany, NY.