Ebook Review: On the Beach by Steve Schmale


From the dust cover: ” Twenty-something Lenny Decker is a man of few plans, and he seems to like it that way. Bumming around a sleepy California beach town, Lenny appears to live a life of Zen-like slacker simplicity. His days and nights are a seemingly endless loop of visits to the local bar and pick-up basketball games, punctuated by long stretches in his apartment with only a twelve pack, a bong, and a TV of questionable quality for company.
But Lenny has a thing or two to deal with: a near brush with success in his past has left him running for the comfort of a life where the stakes aren’t just low, they’re non-existent. Then there’s the woman who sees past Lenny’s stoned exterior and is challenging him in ways he hasn’t been tested in years.
Will Lenny rise to the occasion, or will he keep flipping the channel?
Set against the backdrop of the lazy California coast, populated with a cast of unforgettable characters, and replete with examples of some of life’s crueller—yet hilarious—ironies, On the Beach is a compelling story of what happens when one young man’s dreams bump up against his reality.”

My Ebook review: “On The Beach” is a book that has left me conflicted in my emotions. It is the story of a kid who has refused to grow up. This is a recognisable scenario for a novel, the question really becomes one of whether the plot manages to rise from this to become a thing of originality and interest.

Lenny Decker as a kid did not seem to need to try very hard to get any of the things in life that he wanted. The problem is that by now he does not really want anything except the easy win and the comfortable life style. He has skills and he uses them well to win a few wagers and makes a bit of money. This keeps Lenny happy and feeling like he is doing alright. That clearly is not the objective truth and the obviousness of his self-destructive behaviour is apparent to all who care, but they too are few and far between. His brush with success is a back story that is developed through the book and usefully so. His failure to grab his chances, or rather his desire to let go of chances, is a repetitive feature and characteristic of a home body not wishing to be even slightly out of his own control.

On the beach is, at times, very beautifully written. At times it seems to drag a little as the monotony of our hero’s life is made abundantly clear. Essentially it is a book to nothing, that leads us nowhere but takes us on a journey of realisation that we all make choices and not all of them are rational and not all of them are in our own best interests.

Does it rise to become a thing of originality? Not necessarily, or at least not obviously. It is a fine story and one that does compel us to find out what happens to Lenny but its major impact is in the occasionally brilliant descriptive writing style of the author.

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3 thoughts on “Ebook Review: On the Beach by Steve Schmale

      1. You are probably correct. Having had time pass since reading this story it is clear that my personal frustration towards Lenny impacts greatly my perception.
        The very fact that the book delivers a number of emotional responses to its characters is a sign that the author did a great job in its writing.

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