Douglas Cobb's Reviews > The Friday Night Club

The Friday Night Club by Jacob Nelson Lurie
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Jan 25, 10

Read in January, 2010

Think of a cross between The Breakfast Club (the "College Years" version) and "How I Met Your Mother," with a lot more imbibing of alcoholic beverages and gratuitous sex thrown in for good measure, and you might get some glimmering of an idea about the awesomeness that is the plot line of The Friday Night Club by Jacob Nelson Lurie. The book’s first person narrator, Davis Robertson, takes a nonlinear look back on his college and post-college years, eventually leading up to his wedding day, and contemplates everything that defines himself and his friends and has brought him to be willing to get yoked to one woman for the rest of his life. Though he loves the woman he’s going to marry, Pamela, he can’t help but think about the wild times and numerous sexual conquests he’s had in the past, and wonder if he’s doing the right thing.

The novel has a fairly large cast of characters, with probably the most interesting one being Davis’s good friend, the actor Peter Carter, who the narrator describes as looking "...a lot like a young Matthew McConaughey." The way the narrator admires Carter and looks up to his wealth, carefree manner, ability to drink like a fish, and womanizing skills reminded me a bit of the way the narrator of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby admires the title character of that novel.

The novel is liberally laced with humorous moments and musical and cultural references. Besides the reference comparing Peter to Matthew McConaughey, another of Davis’s friends, Jonesy, is described as resembling David Bowie, and another character, Thomas Divan, is described as "...looking a lot like a young Steve McQueen." There are many other references, from Bible quotes to Pink Floyd’s line from the album "Animals," "...dragged down by the stone." The characters are, after all, a product of the times they live in. One of the pleasures I got from reading the novel was thinking about the references myself, and the meanings each had for me and the people I knew while growing up.

The Friday Night Club is made up of the narrator and his friends. They meet every Friday night and have parties where the beer and other alcohol flows freely, and they all, in general, have a lot of fun taking a break from their studying and classes at the University of Colorado. They even have a set of three Commandments each member must adhere to, such as Commandment #1: "No band or any earsplitting music that shakes the fillings from your mouth or the neighbors from their slumber." The club fills a social need in their lives, providing them with a break from the mundane, and a chance to philosophize and shoot the bull with each other. As the narrator puts it: "We six lost circus performers were simply in need of an escape from the daily dullness of classes and studying."

It’s a coming of age story, a novel of becoming adults, of settling down into married lives and raising families, on one level. But it is a novel that is full of life and the promise of living each moment to its fullest, also, while one is still young, and it is vibrant and will cause you to look back fondly on your own college years. The club is very important to everybody who is a member of it. As Jonesy says, it and the people he met as a result of the club made "College the best four years of my life." He goes on to say:

"The Friday Night Club was the one thing I could look forward to
if the week was bad. It was the dry blanket and bottle of whiskey
after walking in a rain storm of shit. But...if the week was good..goddamn, that party was the icing on the cake. It was my home away from home. It was my sanctuary. No, it was our sanctuary...our church."

The Friday Night Club speaks to all of us, whether you’re currently in college, are looking forward to attending one, or are long out of it and are firmly ensconced in marital bliss and are looking back on your past, like the narrator. If you enjoy reading humorous novels about drinking, partying, having sex with as many people as possible while you’re still young, and lots of alcohol-induced - but still insightful philosophy - on life, then The Friday Night Club is the book for you.

 
--Douglas R. Cobb--
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