Jim “JD” Dillenger is a quick-witted, snarky, angsty teenager. He’s also fresh-off-drugs and suicidal. As Dillenger muddles through his awkward, oddly interesting life, he finds himself in Aaron Michael Ritchey’s new book, Long Live The Suicide King.
“They say, write what you know and I grew up with addiction and depression, personally,” said Ritchey, a graduate of Santa Clara University, at a Studio Bongiorno book signing on June 21. “I really wanted to write a book about suicide and depression – teenage depression … but it’s really a book about hope. It’s really a book about finding meaning in unexpected places. It’s about a kid who quits doing drugs and becomes suicidal, but the more suicidal he gets, the more interesting he life becomes. He starts to let go of his old ideas because he’s really looking to check out, only he can’t quite do it because it’s not quite right … Jim’s journey is really my journey. It’s semi-autobiographical. Everything that happens to him is kind of more hyperbolic and it’s kind of more dramatic, though. It’s fiction. Reality is very slow and boring.”
Written with a similar flair as J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye – although Ritchey said Salinger and his protagonist, Holden Caulfield, were not on his mind while writing the book – Long Live The Suicide King’s Dillenger is just as cynical and whip-smart as Caulfield, and both characters are likable, despite their flaws. However, according to Ritchey, while Caulfield maneuvered through a cast of “phony” people, Dillenger battles “all these pre-conceived notions, and, as he goes through the book, he realizes that he doesn’t know anything.”
Long Live the Suicide King is a mere 209 pages and 55,000 words, but Ritchey packs in a complete story. “One of the things I really like to talk about is that life is difficult but there’s hope,” said Ritchey. “It is really about hope and meaning. It’s funny, but it’s dark. For some people, it isn’t very dark, but for others it is … It’s about accepting life. The world is good. It’s not perfect, but it’s good, which I think is the journey that we as humans have to go on. Life is broken, but it’s beautiful.”
The book is available on Amazon, where reviews of the novel, which came out in April of this year, are positive. Visit http://www.amazon.com/Long-Suicide-Aaron-Michael-Ritchey/dp/0985564385/ref=la_B007PRZMSQ_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403621493&sr=1-1 to purchase.
Ritchey is currently finalizing the deal on his next book – another coming of age story, but one with a lighter side. “My first two books [Long Live The Suicide King and The Never Prayer] are about drug addicts and atheists, and this next one – a coming of age story too – but it’s kind of more of a fairytale, but not in the traditional sense. It’s a sweeter, romance story,” said Ritchey. Visit http://aaronmritchey.com for more information.