Keith Buckley – “Scale” Review

Posted: by Sean Gonzalez

I want to be dead with Ray Goldman. Keith Buckley, the renowned vocalist and lyricist for Every Time I Die, has authored his debut novel Scale via Rare Bird Lit. Instead of crafting his own personal memoir he envisioned a character in which to vomit his stories through. The book weaves through two narratives, with the odd chapters focusing on Goldman trying to conquer his inner turmoil that has been haunting his entire life while the even chapters follow Goldman’s up bringing and into Indie Rock stardom. As we follow the young Goldman the novel’s pace reads as a man trying to catch himself, almost like a flash of all life has given you right before you die. This concept is beautifully written with towering confidence and winding imagery.

As Goldman is trying to ascend into the blinding light of inner peace he is also spiraling through the darkest ditches of himself that he cannot seem to climb out of. He seeks spiritual guidance and has to shelter his new found innocence as he prepares to reconnect the dots that started him on this narcissistic path. The arrogance that came with his quick rise to fame in the music world opened up a can of worms that shaped themselves as Goldman’s new identity, a bitter follower of a lifestyle that pushes his actual self in the corner to take continued blows with a weak defense. Buckley’s voice is powerful enough to creep his own biting cynicism into the character, blending his own real stories within a novel that begs you to separate what actually happened vs. what is based on reality. There is a eloquent conversation between Goldman and an old friend about his inner pursuit to figure out what being a writer actually is and I cannot help but imagine Buckley having had the conversation with himself. It reads like a dilemma between Jung and Nietzsche having their own issues in reaching a consensus. 

Burning through Goldman’s self induced trauma are small fractions of hope and inspiration. Buckley’s natural ability to bring to life a maniacal heartache helps the people reading understand their own troubles at the same time Goldman is expressing his. Being an average kid growing up, we see Goldman quench his inner need for attention and distraction by being forced into natural awakenings that most everyone has experienced. There is a section where the young sixth grader loses his ability to see innocence and purity in girls, instead visualizing all of their intestines rushing out their bodies in a self-realizing fit of anguish. Buckley’s ability to be transcendental and take situations to a vivid and specific level of imagery is undeniably the best reason to read the novel and he delivers with winding thoughts that often leave the reader exhausted and begging for more. 

With Scale, Keith Buckley has removed a small layer of his skin and put together a landscape full of corruptible demons that have been chasing him his whole life. What was once scaled down into quick lyrics has been expanded and armed with tact. He preps Ray Goldman with enough nuclear warheads to destroy his entire life and in the middle of his spiritual journey to the light the mushroom cloud reaches it’s climactic state and levels everything. With the structure now fractured, we have Ray preparing to channel his creativity in a new way and one can’t help but wonder if this mirrors Buckley’s identity. Through Ray Goldman, fans of Every Time I Die are offered a small glimpse into a delusion of what Buckley’s life may be, or maybe what his life actually is. Regardless, your heart will melt alongside Goldman as his life explodes and you will cry when he can’t figure out what is actually wrong and you will smile at the minutia of his own happiness. Scale will have you realize yourself.