by Kenneth Michaels, Karl Mearns,
ISBN: 1551971755

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First Novels - What's with Young Men These Days?
by Eva Tihanyi

Some might say the same about KM (Commonwealth, 432 pages, $7.99 paper), by Kenneth Michaels, the pen name for Karl Mearns, a Caledonia, Ontario antique dealer and athletic coach. KM is a coming-of-age story spanning two years in the life of the narrator, Ken, as he heads south from Caledonia to join his parents in Lister, South Carolina, where his father has been hired as the mill manager. He eventually goes off to the University of Richmond, where despite lots of "classic" college antics worthy of Animal House (including the requisite concern with penis size, cars, beer, farting, and belching), Ken continues to grow as a loyal son, a patient friend, a dedicated student, and a sensitive boyfriend. (He even raises funds for his ex-girlfriend's abortion, although he's not the father of the child, by organizing a peeing contest.) In short, he's a model of young manhood.

To be fair, there are moments of genuine humour, even perhaps an insight or two. Unfortunately, the writing doesn't rise above the mediocre; nor does the content rise above cliché.


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