Excerpt from the novel Meeting Dennis Wilson by Max Harrick Shenk
Setting: spring 1976, Quaker Valley, Pennsylvania.
…At the other end of the mall was The Antiques Show: a dozen or so vendors with furniture and folding tables stacked with dishes, books, linens, stamps, postcards, coins, comic books, sheet music, and, almost hidden under a table full of magazines and junk (oops… that’s ephemera)…
“Records!” Margo yipped, and she made a beeline to the boxes: three weathered apple crates full of albums. I followed her and we each flipped through an end box. Which one of us would get to the middle one first? I wasn’t finding much that interested me back then, but if only I could go back now and buy them at fifty cents a pop: an apple crate full of classic country vinyl… Johnny Bond, Ernest Tubb, Lefty Frizzell, Wanda Jackson, Loretta Lynn, Red Foley–
“The Beach Boys! Scorrrre!” Margo pulled out a nice-looking original copy of Little Deuce Coupe and set it aside. “Another one–” Beach Boys Party! “–and another.” Surfer Girl. “Wow. Holy shhhh…crap!” Six classic Beach Boys albums, “none of them that I really have” (I took note of the word “really”), for fifty cents each, which added up to three dollars more than either Margo or I had on us… so…
Mrs. LeDoux dutifully stepped over. “Maaaahhhhhhhmmmm,” she repeated, and she said something en Francais, and Margo and her started back and forth, and again I didn’t get it, but I heard “six” and “trois dollars” and “Pleeeeease?” (which was apparently the same in French as in English) and Maaaaaahhhhhmmm sighed and opened her purse and handed Margo a five, and looked at me. “You find any, Brian?” So I picked out four albums from the middle box– The Fabulous Style of the Everly Brothers and Jan and Dean Golden Hits Volume Two and Bennett-Basie (Count Basie had played at QVHS the previous spring) and another Beach Boys album, Pet Sounds (“It’s all right, Bri… I already have that one.”) and Margo paid, and we were done.
Except Margo had just started. “Oh my God… I can’t believe this,” she said as we walked out to their car. “Six albums. Why are they so cheap? There’s nothing wrong with them. There’s nothing wrong with yours, right, Bri?”
I nodded as I climbed into the back seat of the wagon and Margo got in the front, and her mom started the engine. “I mean, I have some of the songs on some of these,” Margo said. (“Actually,” she said when we talked on the phone later, “I had most of the songs on five of them, but I wasn’t gonna say that. I still think Mom knows more English than she lets on.”) She examined the covers. “I love the pictures,” she said. “They were so cute back then. Especially Denny…” and from the seat next to her, Mrs. LeDoux repeated, a little wearily, “Denny…”
Margo hit her mom’s leg. “He’s cute, Mom… come on!” She was examining the cover of Summer Days (and Summer Nights!). “Mike has his shirt off. Why doesn’t Denny have his shirt off? I mean, they’re on a boat. Nice black sweater, though…” She turned over the cover to examine the song list. “I don’t have all of these,” she said, and then, as she read the group members’ individual liner notes, she got hushed. “Wow…” she said at last.
“What?” I said. I was studying the bizarre Japanese tour pictures on the back of Pet Sounds. Margo insisted I’d like this album (“Brian, you will love this album!”) but I kind of wondered if I’d made the right choice, and wished I’d started in the box at Margo’s end… although if I’d found those albums, then I would have had to put up with her asking me to borrow them, tape them for her–
“Listen, Bri, listen!” She read from the back cover. “‘I love the summertime most because we get around to all the towns and I can meet all the girls.’ That’s Dennis.”
Seemed about right. “Yeah,” I said.
“‘Yeah?’ Brian… he says he can meet all the girls!” Her eyes caught mine in the little mirror in the sunvisor. They were sparkling more than usual, like an unseen source of fuel had been ignited by those words…
Meeting Dennis Wilson by Max Harrick Shenk…
“Today marks the day that I officially add Meeting Dennis Wilson to my ‘Favorite Coming of Age Books’ list. I adore John Green and his work [and] I fell in love with this book just as easily as I fell in love with Paper Towns or An Abundance of Katherines. Meeting Dennis Wilson can easily be compared to a teenager who’s just coming of age: awkward, quirky, hilarious, and loads of fun to be around.Meeting Dennis Wilson is incredibly comical, sweet, and ultimately feel-good.”
(The Literary Connoisseur)
Meeting Dennis Wilson is available in both softcover print and Kindle editions, in either seven serialized installments or as an omnibus edition gathering all seven books.