I will be leaving soon for my trip to my junior high school reunion in my hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma. I have no idea what to expect from the reunion as I have never been to one before. I do, however, expect that the trip back to Tulsa will be something of a Sentimental Journey. I will be staying with my cousin and his wife who live on the street where I grew up. I, in fact, spent many hours of my childhood in the house where they now live. I expect I will spend some time just driving around the area seeing what has changed and what is still the same, and giving some thought to how I have changed and what is still the same.
One of the things that has sort of surprised me about myself in looking toward the reunion is the occasional spark of teenage angst that has come back to me. I can't say that my teen years were wonderful, but I also can't say they were awful, so I'm not sure where these feelings are coming from. It may be that I just have a bit of anxiety about what it will be like walking alone into a room full of people that I haven't seen for (gulp) nearly 50 years. All in all, I am expecting it to be fun, interesting and hopefully a catharsis for my latent teenage angst.
One of the fun things about the timing of my trip is that a novel, titled A Map of Tulsa, written by my cousin's son was just released this week. The book is set in Tulsa and is a coming of age story told by the main character that begins when he comes back home to Tulsa for the summer after his first year of college.
I just got the book from Amazon so I haven't read it yet to be able to give a personal review, but the following, an excerpt from a Publisher's Weekly review, makes me look forward to reading the book.
If Catcher in the Rye has lost its raw clout for recent generations of Internet-suckled American youth, here is a coming-of-age novel to replace it. Instead of running away, the pretentious narrator of this updated version of Salinger’s bildungsroman travels headlong back home to claim the town where he came of age. After his first year at a never-named college back East (bearing a striking resemblance to Harvard, Lytal’s own alma mater), Jim Praley returns to Tulsa. On his first visit to a local bar, he reconnects with a woman he went to high school with, who invites him to a birthday party. There he meets the beguiling Adrienne Booker, muse of the local teen set, a rich high school dropout who lives alone in her family’s downtown penthouse. In spite of a vow to spend the summer reading classic literature, Jim falls hard for Adrienne, spending days on end teaching her the art history he remembers from his freshman course and watching her paint. After that mythic summer, and a chapter chronicling Jim’s brief literary career in New York, a motorcycle accident draws Jim back to Tulsa to witness Adrienne’s ruination firsthand. Although the doomed girl is the focus of Jim’s obsession, the strength of this debut novel is Lytal’s evocation of place: Tulsa through Jim’s eyes is tenderly revealed. There is magic here if the reader has experienced any such provincial city, for the prose provokes remembered images, acutely vivid.
It will be the perfect book for me to read on my Sentimental Journey back to Tulsa.