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From former MTV VJ Dave Holmes, the hilarious memoir of a perpetual outsider fumbling towards self-acceptance, with the music of the '80s, '90s, and today as his soundtrack
Dave Holmes has spent his life on the periphery, nose pressed hopefully against the glass, wanting just one thing: to get inside. Growing up, he was the artsy son in the sporty family. At his all-boys high school and Catholic college, he was the closeted gay kid surrounded by crush-worthy straight guys. And in his twenties, in the middle of a disastrous career in advertising, he accidentally became an MTV VJ overnight when he finished second, naturally, in the Wanna Be a VJ contest, opening the door to fame, fortune, and celebrity—you know, almost.
In Party of One, Holmes tells the hilariously painful and painfully hilarious tales—in the vein of Rob Sheffield, Andy Cohen, and Paul Feig—of an outsider desperate to get in, of a misfit constantly changing shape, of a music geek who finally learns to accept himself. Structured around a mix of hits and deep cuts from the last four decades—from Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" and En Vogue's "Free Your Mind" to LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” and Bleachers’ “I Wanna Get Better”—and punctuated with interludes like "So You've Had Your Heart Broken in the 1990s: A Playlist" and “Notes on (Jesse) Camp,” this book is for anyone who's ever felt like a square peg, especially those who have found their place in the world around a band, an album, or a song. It's a laugh-out-loud funny, deeply nostalgic story about never fitting in, never giving up, and letting good music guide the way.
– NPR “Best Books of 2016”: Staff Picks, Biography & Memoir, For Music Lovers, Funny Stuff, Non-fiction Categories
Holmes lives a life of misery, struggling to find his way into a club that will have someone like him for a member, and he gladly shares his moments of humiliation with anyone ready to listen in this pointless, unfunny, and eventually wearisome memoir. Growing up in St. Louis, Holmes tells his mother that he finds another boy cute, and his mother replies that boys don't call other boys cute. At that moment, he realizes that he has a self he could show to the world and one he'd have to hide; the song that got him through this time in life was Billy Joel's "I Love You Just the Way You Are." Holmes meanders along in his life, mostly feeling out of place, until he decides that he's filled with desire to be a student at Holy Cross ("gorgeous campus"); the sound track to these years includes the Replacements' "Achin' to Be," Tears for Fears' "Sowing the Seeds of Love," and Edie Brickell and New Bohemians' "What I Am." Holmes eventually winds up in New York and becomes a runner-up on MTV's "Wanna Be a VJ" contest after coming in as runner-up in the network's "Wanna Be a VJ" contest. During his time at MTV, he works on the videos for Destiny Child's "Say My Name" and Britney Spears's "Baby One More Time," among others. In general, Holmes comes across as self-absorbed, and when he's let go from MTV and continues his search for love, happiness, and self-acceptance, he becomes much more relatable.