Lansky, Sam. “Broken People: A Novel”, Hanover Square Press, 2020.
Samlearns that there is someone who can perform “open-soul surgery” on emotionally damaged people. He is new to Los Angeles after his life in New York imploded and this sounds great to him. He loves the idea of the possibility of total transformation. He’s desperate for something to believe in, and the shaman, who promises ancient rituals, plant medicine and encounters with the divine sound wonderful and so he signs up for a weekend under the shaman’s care. What he does not know is if
the great spirits to be summoned are real or just ghosts in Sam’s memory that are more powerful than magic.
Sam has the ability to ‘go deeper’ to find peace within his own body and we understand that this is writer Sam Lansky’s his l memoir. The novel refers to aspects of author Lansky’s life while developing fictional Sam’s character and character journey. This a “coming-to-grips story that at once makes fun of fake spiritualism even when it brings the author’s personal insights to the surface…. [the novel] is a journey into the nature of truth and fiction—a story of discovering hope amid cynicism, intimacy within chaos and peace in our own skin.”
I see this book as a satire and thinly disguised memoir and sequel to Lansky’s earlier memoir, “The Gilded Razor’ which I love. However, a defined plot is lacking here and unfortunately most of the characters are ego centered and not the kind of people I would want in my life. Yet the prose is gorgeous and deals with many of the questions of life and the reasons for angst. It is also deeply personal and spends a good deal of time on Lansky’s gay sexuality. Effectively, this is a mediation on what Sam remembers and what being human really means. We are taken into a look at what is truth and what is not and look for hope so that we can make peace with who we are. We see that we’re all broken but we can be healed.
The themes of gay sex and love; addiction; real estate are evident throughout.