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Are You There, God? It's Me. Kevin. 

Inside author Kevin Keck's new pot-, sex- and theology-tinged memoir

Read the back of his new book Are You There, God? It's Me. Kevin., and you'll see that Charlotte-area writer Kevin Keck is having a quarter-life crisis.

Well, that is, he was when he penned the book, which is a memoir of events and escapades he experienced a few short years ago. The book, published by Bloomsbury USA and set to hit bookstores Feb. 18, includes tales of pot smoking, sex, mental breakdowns, OCD hang-ups, family and the search for God. Keck also writes pages and pages about Charlotte in the book; flip through Are You There, God? and you may recognize many of the locales and some of our city's stranger citizens. The following text is a short -- and rather Q.C.-centric -- excerpt from Keck's latest work:

(From "Chronicles," a chapter in Are You There God? It's Me. Kevin. By Kevin Keck.)

We'd been invited to the house of Lilith's dental hygienist for New Year's Eve. "They're swingers," Lilith told me when I initially resisted going; I wasn't a big fan of parties with Lilith's friends. She knew I felt I was missing something essential about life in regards to my ever-elusive group fantasy. She'd previously told me that she would do anything I wanted if I presented her with an engagement ring. I nearly asked her why she'd dropped this relationship clause, but instead I played it as cool as I possibly could, given that fulfillment of a lifelong dream was so close. Also, I was happy to have the ring subject dropped period. In the preceding months, Lilith had relentlessly been dropping hints that what she wanted more than anything else in this world for Christmas was an engagement ring. A lot of this pressure emanated from her mother, a Charlotte socialite who adhered to the quaint notion that a girl was destined to be an old maid if she wasn't wed by the age of twenty-five. Lilith was teetering on the brink of spinsterhood, and thus if we were watching television and a commercial for a jeweler's came on, she'd comment along the lines of "That's a pretty ring -- that's the sort of ring I'd like." Even if she was in another room when the advertisements commenced, she would step into the doorway for the duration just in case a commercial featuring engagement rings came on. Perhaps she thought she was being subtle, but it's difficult to fail to notice that someone only provides commentary when a specific piece of jewelry flashes on the screen; it was a Pavlovian response to be marveled at, which I would have had I not been the target of her programming.

Besides, even if I had the desire to be married, I certainly didn't have the money; I taught college part-time, and that's enough to eek out an existence for me. I don't see why I should work hard to own a home and drive a nice car, or the point of winning any sort of game, when we're all just going to end up dead anyway. Why bother? Better to spend your time like Thoreau, working as little as possible and doing as much of what you like while you're here. Such an attitude prevents one from accumulating the capital necessary to purchase precious metals, but it does offer the luxury of acquiring a gift card to Target, and as Lilith liked buying knickknacks for the apartment, I thought that a gift with the possibility for fulfilling a variety of desires was a splendid idea.

Lilith and I started out the door around nine on New Year's Eve to walk to the party; winter is often nonexistent in North Carolina, and so the evening was only mildly chilly. As we turned the corner, I put my hand on Lilith's ass; she was wearing a black cocktail dress that made her look especially fuckable. A voice from a passing car yelled, "Woohoo!" and then that car stopped just ahead of us. I recognized it: it was my brother's.

He rolled down the passenger's window and said, "What up, dude? I thought I'd missed you."

I leaned down and put my head in the car. "We just got started. Some friends of Lilith's are having a party."

"Cool, I was hoping you had something planned."

I turned my head to look at Lilith; she'd lit a cigarette and was giving me the wide-eyed stare of No, absolutely no way is he coming. I put my head back in the car. "I don't know, dude. You may not be dressed properly." My brother was sporting shorts, a tie-dyed T-shirt, sandals, and a thick hemp necklace. He'd been cultivating a beard for months, though perhaps cultivation is a misleading term; he was growing a wild, hairy beast on his face.

"What the fuck, man? It's tradition that we spend New Year's together."

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