Insightful, provocative and bold, Paradise Squandered is Alex Stefansson’s take-no-prisoners debut novel about a cynical teenager’s naive artistic aspirations, and his pining love for a girl he is too afraid to actually talk to. It is a raw, powerful portrait of a disaffected generation in an empty, consumer-culture world. It is the story of Andrew Banks, a recent graduate of Puget Sound Prep and quite possibly the most directionless member of his graduating class.
This is a story of what it is like to aimlessly trudge along that strange and uncharted course that is life after high school.
Andrew returns home from a long-promised graduation trip to Hawaii and re-enters a bland, suburban landscape of privilege and indifference feeling alone and empty. The house he grew up in doesn’t feel like home anymore. His mother seems more interested in desperately clinging to youth than being a mother. His sister only cares about playing the role of dutiful daughter. His brother disappeared years ago. His dad died when he was ten.
Talented but uninspired, Andrew knows he wants to pursue his art, but he has no idea how. He resigns himself to going through the motions of his own life, until he overhears the disturbing truth of his father’s death. He instantly decides he has to leave his childhood home forever, and a darkly hilarious odyssey ensues.
Andrew moves to a new city with his best friend, David, who is going to college in the fall and has big plans for his future. Andrew’s plans are less academic. He meets Steven, a highly ambitious artist with questionable motives, and a mysterious and alluring young woman who keeps him coming back to the same coffee shop, day after day. Andrew eventually discovers that some things are actually worth pursuing.
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My writing reflects my introspective and self effacing nature. My writing is brutally honest.
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Writers?
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Don’t be afraid to fail. Share your work regularly and ask for feedback. Listen to what everyone has to say, but do not let negative feedback get you down. Do not be afraid of the backspace key. Do not get too attached to your own words. Revisions are often necessary.
Alex Stefansson (born 1984 in Seattle, Washington) is an American writer of literary fiction. He grew up in the suburbs of Seattle and eventually attended Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. He foolishly chose the wrong major and is now just scraping by as a writer.
Stefansson’s writing is often influenced by sleep deprivation and too much caffeine. He currenly resides in Tacoma, Washington.What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My book was inspired both by things I experienced while growing up, and by things I witnessed happening to others–friends, family members, strangers. I have always been a very analytical person, and I have also always felt compelled to spend significant portions of my time scribbling my thoughts, ideas and observations down in various notebooks. I have a stack of close to 30 notebooks in a box in bedroom closet, and they contain a wide assortment of writing, some of it interesting, some of it depressing, some of it illegible. After I graduated from college, I felt completely lost. One day, I was reading through some of my old notebooks, searching for insight into myself, trying to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life, and it hit me–I should write a book. So I did (it only took 5 years).