This debut novel tells the story of Bobby Quinn, who looks back on his college years at New York University in the 1990s and his intense relationships with a wunderkind photographer and a beautiful cinephile femme fatale who is consumed by her love for silent-era films.
That Was Something relays that intensity, that specific urgency, of being young and in love and in lust, manipulating the boundaries of your own identity, figuring out what it means to be free ... writing well about periods of youthful indulgence and the kind of madcap romances that involve wild nights of running down city streets in the rain is hard, but you wouldn’t know that from reading Callahan, who relays this story of young love lost with a stripped-down style and a dry, sometimes biting humor that he wields to great, alternately devastating and uplifting, effect ... It’s this echo, this emotional rattling around, that Callahan captures perhaps better than anyone else I’ve read; That Was Something isn’t in itself nostalgic, but rather wrestles with the idea of nostalgia’s worth, and offers readers an understanding of why it’s an important thing with which to reckon.
That Was Something...is revealed in a casual, cheeky manner that mirrors a teatime chat with friends ... it reads as both euphoric and utterly dysfunctional ... Dan Callahan’s slim debut makes up for its size with a supreme dose of tenderness. That Was Something is a vivid novel that chronicles how youthful exuberance is ultimately highjacked by time. Callahan expertly nails the yearning we all hold for our yesterdays and reminds us that, despite the hours, days and even years of anticipation, our grandest occasion becomes a mere memory all too quickly.
Sometimes a novel feels so true to your lived experience it feels pulled from your own life. That was our sensation reading That Was Something ... That Was Something captures that time of our youth when slightly older, charismatic, more fully realized personalities could captivate us completely. It's a novel about youth, and like youth, it's slim (102 pages), fleeting, and always off to the next thing ... This is a book for those of us who have or had friends with larger-than-life personalities trapped, alas, in real life.