Green and the Gold, The, By Bart Schaneman, 172 pgs.

The back story of The Green and the Gold is intriguing. In the early 2000s, Bart Schaneman sent his manuscript to Grove Press (home of William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and Henry Miller) even though they didn’t take submissions. Grove actually accepted it, worked on it, and then the person who was championing the book left Grove and disappeared. Schaneman was left to self-publish his work.

The Green and the Gold centers around nineteen-year-old Carrick, who lives just outside the Western Nebraska town of Scottsbluff. The story begins with him recently having returned from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, but his experiences there remain a mystery, as does why it is he returned home. With pressure from his parents he begins to work on a farm and slowly gets out and is social. He meets a woman, falls for her, but is still plagued by whatever it is that set him off in Lincoln. I won’t give away what happens to that relationship, but after Carrick is asked by his psychologist what happened in Lincoln, the book shifts to that locale.

The second part of the book is rather identifiable to anyone who has ever gone off to college far from home. It’s jarring to be away from the place where one grew up. Being around so many people you don’t know, learning your way around campus, figuring out what is expected of you as a student, and understanding how to negotiate the emotions that come from all of this is a difficult burden. To put it succinctly, Carrick doesn’t handle his move to Lincoln well. Lots of misadventures occur, including a random purchase of a kayak, conversations with people who live on the street, and that desperate attempt to meet someone—anyone—who might connect with him.

The last portion of the book returns to Scottsbluff. Carrick moves forward in his life. He tries to figure out what is next for him in this small, rural Nebraska town. The story culminates with a revelation about his earlier relationship with the woman he dated. It’s nothing grandiose or life altering, but it’s a way for Carrick to culminate the tempest he found himself in at that moment. It’s enough to get him through. And when you’re losing your shit, you need to hold on to each and every thing that will keep you alive no matter how minor it may seem.

As I made my way through these 172 pages, I found another reference point for Schaneman’s work: Catcher in the Rye. It’s the story of a teenager trying to find their way as they go through changes in their life and explore a city that’s bigger than themselves. But whereas Holden Caulfield is a dick, Carrick is a sympathetic protagonist who still tries to do right even amidst his mind derailing. So fuck Catcher in the Rye.I’d rather read The Green and the Gold any day. –Kurt Morris (tridentcafe.com/trident-press-titles)