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The Going Places Club is a collaborative memoir of childhood and adolescence. During the 1970s and early 1980s, the author and his best friend grew up in the town of Madison, New Jersey, fifteen miles west of Manhattan as the crow flies. Although not a large or particularly famous place, Madison is a quintessentially suburban town; readers will recognize its salient features if they grew up in suburbia during that time.
The author's friend, Jeff, possessed a spirit of observation and a sensibility beyond the typical childhood sensitivity to his surroundings. These qualities allowed him to see his hometown in a unique way, as an artist might, by standing outside it and observing it dispassionately. The detail of the prose is remarkable, practically pointillist. Jeff's vivid descriptions enabled John, this book's author, to see his hometown in a way that he never could have on his own: in stereo, so to speak.
A year ago, the two boyhood friends decided to relate Jeff's coming of age. Jeff opened his prodigious memory bank, telling stories of family, friends, and other neighborhood characters, sending them to John. John ordered and polished the accounts, appending some reminiscences of his own, and made the narrative thread more prominent. The memoir is thus Jeff's story as refracted through John's sensibility.
This coming-of-age memoir chronicles a friendship that has stood the test of time and of a world that has not, save in memory.
The Going Places Club is John Baldan's first book. He grew up in the suburban town of Madison, New Jersey during the 1970's and 1980's. As a reader, John favors memoirs. Perhaps to no one's surprise, his favorite book is In Search of Lost Time, that most famous of fictionalized memoirs. More generally, John enjoys nonfiction about the recent past, contemporary enough to be recognizable and distant enough to be strange. More than most people, he is amazed by the disparity between how things were done in the past and how they are done now.