Before I Lose My Style by Mike Kaspar is about overcoming the grief of love lost and how a close circle of friends can both help and hinder this process. The narrator, Damon, a thirty something scientist living in L.A., faces life alone after his longtime boyfriend leaves him unexpectedly. Damon fills his life with a series of one night stands until he falls in with a musician from Budapest who is staying with one of Damon’s friends. The three of them briefly form a strange and strained relationship that ultimately leaves all of them unfulfilled. Meantime, the rest of their friends must find a way to deal with this new threesome in their midst.
It’s in this circle of friends that Before I Lose My Style shows its strength. I find it can be difficult to follow a large cast of characters in contemporary fiction. It’s often the case that authors try to introduce everyone in quick snippets during the first chapter, jumping through space and time to do so. In Before I Lose My Style, Mr. Kaspar introduces everyone gradually and keeps the groups small until we know the characters well enough to have them all together in a big party scene. The late night phone calls and email exchanges that are typical of friends dealing with break ups and new relationships are both amusing and heartfelt. There is a funny extended sequence the begins when Damon accidentally hits the reply all button and sends an email critical of one friend’s partner to everyone. It’s nice to read about friends dealing with issues like this, working it out and getting through it together.
While Before I Lose My Style deals with several serious issues, Mr. Kaspar never loses his overall breezy tone. The book is about a group of friends, and reading it is like being a part of the group–sometimes chatty, sometimes catty, a comfortable fit even during a fight. The grief of a love lost is something common to most circle’s of friends; Damon’s circle responds in typical ways–taking him out, setting him up, patiently helping him through a series of wrong guys until he finds the right one was right in front of him all along.
This review first ran in 2008 on my old blog Ready When You Are, C.B. I’ve been slowly migrating my old reviews over to this new blog. It’s going to take a while.