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Titanium Punch

by Yashin Blake

Anyone wondering what it would be like to move to the big city and be part of an “underground scene” might want to check out Titanium Punch. The short novel’s storyline is tried and true. Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, and, after a minor misunderstanding, boy gets her back again. The boy in this case is Iqbal, a lost urban soul who lives for alternative music. The object of his desire is Titania, a performer in an all-girl band called Titanium Punch. The book answers the question: “What happens when two people who are too cool to fall in love, fall in love?”
First-time novelist Yashin Blake is excellent at namedropping and sketching the local landscape of what he calls “The City of Daggers.” He creates an authentic portrait of Toronto’s downtown music scene and all of its deep concerns: loud music, booze, drugs, commitment-free love, and vegetarianism. This strong sense of place, however, often fails to compensate for a lack of pacing, tension, and structure. The story is episodic and overly focused on such minutiae of everyday living as acquiring food, decorating apartments, and describing what so-and-so was wearing at what club.
Blake also constantly truncates the story’s natural arc by inserting Iqbal’s rambling internal monologues and bland dialogue between his confused friends into the narrative. Like his main character, who has trouble committing to anything but losing his sense of self while dancing in a mosh pit, Blake fails to commit much passion to the page. Readers more interested in a straight-up portrait of the underground might regard these flaws as virtues, though, as the novel’s spare language, detached tone, and lack of narrative resolution chillingly convey the sense of sorrow that shadows that scene.