Saturday, October 4, 2014

Buzz: An Unauthorized Autobiography / Robert Zverina

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Literary Fiction / Coming of Age

Approximate word count: 30-35,000 words

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“Robert Zverina grew up on Long Island, NY among three generations of Czech ex-pats. He received an MFA in Poetry from Brooklyn College under the mentorship of Allen Ginsberg, whose meticulously captioned photographs and lessons in empathy were an inspiration.”

For more, visit Zverina’s website.


“Born in 1969 on the day of the first moon landing, Buzz is the only American-born child in a Czech political refugee immigrant family. Adrift between Old World and New, feeling alienated by so-called progress, Buzz struggles to find connection in New York City's stultifying Long Island suburbs. When saying goodbye to his step-father for the last time, Buzz inherits his childhood home along with a closetful of shameful secrets. Buzz's bizarre family saga and his earnest quest for friendship present a darkly comic yet touching portrait of the post-War immigrant experience.”


Like Buzz, I’ve always felt a strong … connection, for lack of a better way to put it, to the Apollo 11 mission, specifically the first moonwalk. In the case of Buzz, our protagonist, that was the day he was born. For me, it was my eleventh birthday. I thought turning 11 and Apollo 11 was symbolic of something. So I was primed to feel a connection with Buzz.

In some ways I did. As Buzz reacts to different historical events, I could relate, even if from the perspective of someone a few years older. Yet in Buzz’s everyday life, I didn’t so much. Not unlike the difficulty other people had connecting with him. As the story progresses, Buzz uncovers pieces of his own history that might account for his difficulties.

Overall I found Buzz to be well written, with quirky and interesting characters, and a perspective much different than my typical literary diet.


Some adult language.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues

Rating: **** Four Stars

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