Sometimes I scare myself with how much I read. (^^;
And now I need to hunker down and get some serious work done! No more reading. Time for writing! *trumpets* Good God, someone kick me back into line already...!Berlin, Adam. Belmondo Style. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2004.Summary
: Ben's cavalier, pickpocket father Jared models his life after Belmondo in the movie Breathless
. And he has never gotten caught because he has never done any "big stealing." However, when the high-school aged Ben, who is gay, is made victim of a terrible hate crime, his father crosses the line and extracts a terrible, private revenge on the perpetrator (a la The Godfather
). Now they're on the run from NYC down to Miami, accompanied by a Jared's lover Anna, a photographer who specializes in portraits of criminals and the deceased. Becoming ever more crazy and desperate, Jared breaks his own rule and holds up an armored car. The end of the line is, appropriately, in Key West, where Jared dies like the movie hero that he so admires.Comments
: Recommended to me awhile ago by Lawrence Schimel, this novel was. So. Good. From the telling, whimisical photograph of a father and son on the cover, to the way in which Berlin takes a cliched Hollywood caper plot and runs with it so gloriously. The prose is deceptively simple and straightforward, but not a single discordant note is struck in the book's 275 pages. I loved that it was set in parts of the country that I have seen; not to mention that the novel had an immediacy that touched me deeply. Post 9/11, it's quite possible that I was lying in the hospital suffering at the same exact time that Berlin was writing about Ben doing the same. Indeed, it resonated in a way that Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain" did not; gay youths aren't killed for kissing on the streets anymore, but they may get really beat up and tortured still if they're not careful. Ben was 100% convincing as a gifted high school student with much academic and athletic potential. He was the kind of semi-outcast that I would've been friends with in high school. :P On the other hand, at times Jared seemed too big to be real, but I know that was intentional, and, regardless, he really did love his son more than anything else in the world. So, yes, this is a growing up story about Ben, but it is also a love story between a boy and his father, and that love is breathtakingly beautiful. I felt filled with a sweet, all-embracing love just reading about theirs! (Not many books can do that for me.) That Jared dies at the end is not the least bit surprising. Death has become an integrally woven into the fabric of the gay male psyche, but the theme here is done so well that you won't begrudge the author it in the least. I promise. Notes
: hardcover, 1st editionRating
- A softly shining, luminous pearl of a novel. It isn't flashy, but it's so strong on its own terms it doesn't need to be. Go and read it. Now.