by Dennis Mahoney It’s 1990 and I’m a loser. Becoming a novelist hasn’t crossed my mind. I’m a high-school junior who’s shown some aptitude in art, and by aptitude I mean I’m better than classmates who don’t try at all. My art teacher is just happy I do the assignments instead of throwing Exact-o knives into the ceiling. I had a creative impulse throughout my early life, fueled by supportive parents, Legos, and the original Star Wars trilogy. Relatives raved about my drawings. I got a spaceship illustration printed in the local paper during grade school. And I didn’t really want to be Luke or Han. I wanted to be George Lucas and create something awesome. But I couldn’t be bothered to develop any skills. Mötley Crüe was big in my life, as were the Commodore 64 video games my friends and I swapped along our paper routes. I had bad hair, just shy of a bowl cut. Major cysts instead of zits. A soft, pale, jean-jacketed body. I’d never had a serious girlfriend because girls have standards, and because I kept thinking my luck might change, which is the best way to ensure it never, ever does.