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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. With understated wit and a photographic eye for detail, Zverina zooms out to scope large events--the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, Apollo 11 moon landing, and, yes, even Y2K--then zooms back in to examine the ramifications on the tiny individual lives History leaves bobbing in its wake. Written in a concise cinematic style, BUZZ is a quick read that lingers long after.

116 pages, Paperback

First published August 21, 2012

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About the author

Robert Zverina

3 books2 followers
Poet with camera cultivating ad-free online photo-literary magnum opus since 1997. Also slinging prose at smashwords.

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews
Profile Image for Jeridel Banks.
Author 2 books13 followers
November 21, 2012
Anyone who has read Buzz by Robert Zverina probably wonders the same thing.

“Houston, we have a problem. Why isn’t this book under a big publisher?”

Orbiting the moon landing of the U.S. Apollo 11 in 1969, Buzz tells the ordinary tale of Buzz Polstar, the son of Czech political refugees, and his time growing up in Long Island. Buzz showcases Polstar’s nostalgic childhood in the 1960’s, his mundane college career, and his apathetic adulthood.

What makes this book a brilliant read is the witty yet reflective narrative voice of Robert Zverina. Calm and collective with a trace of humor, Zverina delivers an easy, relative read for people looking for a break from the extraordinary. His stream of consciousness throughout the book pounces back and forth between the present and the past, giving few clues to the future. Though Zverina has a unique style, Buzz is imbued with John Fante’s somewhat-sober optimism and Charles Bukowski’s poetic play on words, minus the perversion.

Although Polstar is a great main character, his life’s story is common compared to his family’s history. Polstar’s stepfather, mother, and father escaped the Czech Republic under political pressure, landing in the U.S. as political refugees. Even Buzz’s birth during the moon landing was remarkably climatic over Buzz’s unexciting life. However dull Buzz’s life seems in the book, it’s easy for readers to see themselves in his life. If readers are looking for a less-whiny, contemporary version of Catcher in the Rye starring a regular person with a realistic perspective on a New Yorker’s life, Zverina’s Buzz is it.

In spite of being an indie author, Zverina is light-years away from the average indie author—and it probably comes from his well-rounded background. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Cornell University and a Masters of Fine Arts in Poetry from Brooklyn College, CUNY. Even if anyone subtracted his educational background, Zverina has another trick up his space suit sleeve: he was mentored under the late Allen Ginsberg, one of the leading figures of the 1950’s Beat Generation. The anti-materialism, anti-conformism, and pro-drug theme—remnants of the post-World War II writers—shines through Buzz like a satellite in the middle of space.

Like its name, Buzz should be buzzed up by all readers needing a small step away from the mediocre in indie books.
Profile Image for Guillermo Galvan.
Author 8 books87 followers
November 3, 2012
I just finished reading Buzz, the debut novel by indie writer Robert Zverina. The cover depicting an old school ride cruising by the dark side of the moon told me I was in for something special. I dived into the book without the slightest idea what it was even about. “Robert Zverina? Never heard of him.” I simply picked him up and started reading.

Immediately I encountered a laid back and confident writing style that was easy to get into. The story is told from the first point perspective of Buzz, a first generation born American from a Czech political refuge immigrant family. He’s telling you his story that begins even before he’s born. And he’s telling you it in the genuine voice of a blue collar guy, who’s sort of a charismatic underachiever. You get the impression of catching up with an old friend you haven’t seen in too many years gone by. Family, friends, lovers, life, he’s spilling his guts.

Buzz transitions from being a wide eyed kid to grown man gracefully. Zverina effectively portrays the psychological development as Buzz progresses in his life, not only the main character’s, but the people that pass through his life as well. Their quirks and habits are on full display which lets the reader figure out what makes them tick. These people are alive. It’s an event when they enter Buzz’s life, and it is a subtle tragedy when they leave.

Zverina describes Buzz’s coming from an immigrant family is realistic manner. I myself am from an immigrant family so I know what it’s like to grow up that way. The dynamics of having a culture gap in one household are there. The accents, conflicts, miscommunication, and real life culture clashes move in real time. Buzz’s storytelling takes us Czechoslovakia, so that we experience the paranoid lives of his family living through the Cold War era, and then brings us back to America as if you snapped out of a daydream. I absolutely enjoyed the deep level of introspection into Buzz’s memories.

Buzz isn't a cut and dry “slice of life” work. There’s this strange fascination with the lunar landing that infuses Buzz with thin veneer of magical realism. This adds a subtle metaphysical dimension that hides within the shadows of the book. Outer space becomes a metaphor that is mysterious as our subconscious. I will not ruin this element sharing my thoughts on it, though I will say that the dark side of the moon is a lonely place.

Buzz is a story about life, culture, fragility, and seeking refuge wherever it can be found, even if it’s in a pint of vodka. This is the recipe for a satisfying read. Some of those scenes are so vivid I can still see them in my head. It’s like a hangover that can still make me laugh or feel alone whenever I think about what I read. For being Zverina’s first book, it was very good. Mind you, like all new writers, he does have room for literary development. But if Buzz is any indication of where he’s taking his writing, I’ll be definitely reading his next work.
Profile Image for Al.
1,160 reviews28 followers
November 11, 2014
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.

**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy. **
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 reviews

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