About The Novel
“American Spaz The Novel” is a coming-of-age story with girls and love and death – fists and knives and guns. After going through double tragedies as a child Henry Kreiser grows into a teenager he does not want to be. It starts in 1978 in a suburb of Philadelphia and continues on the farms of a rural boarding school for disadvantaged children. It ends on the tough streets of Trenton, New Jersey in 1988.
American Spaz is auto-biographical fiction by Greg Kieser and chronicles a decade of his life – from 7 to 17 years old – during which time he lost both parents, moved from place to place, and did whatever he needed to do to survive. As the youngest of six children, he had many opportunities during that decade to rely on, and sometimes reject, the love of family.
On the surface it’s a coming-of-age story about a grieving, angst-filled teen. As you read on, though, you will find it’s very much an adult novel that gives plenty of time for the character’s feelings to bubble, boil and simmer. It has a strong rhythm and a terse, musical style. And at intensely emotional moments Kieser explores that style even more, to the point it becomes beautifully abstract. The character’s deep relationship with music during these moments is also on display, as songs by Madonna, Billy Idol, EPMD and more, provoke Henry to look at his life in new ways. Sometimes the music elicits melancholia. Other times it’s euphoria and violence. It’s engaging on many levels. To top it off, American Spaz is rife with hilarious, and sometimes, cringe-worthy moments. The sum total of these elements – the style, the exploration of fears/wants/needs, the relationship with music and the humor – makes for a novel that is not only fast and gripping but modern and relevant.