Lisicky, Paul. “Lawnboy”, Graywolf Press, 2006.
Several years ago I read Paul Licisky’s “Lawnboy” and was moved by both the story and the style. I am really glad to see that is has been reissued and with a new cover, a reader’s guide and an interview with the writer. The book is a wonderful coming of age novel that carefully deals with the issue of self-acceptance. Evan is 17 years old and tends to the lawn of a neighbor, William, in Miami, Florida. One day they begin a secret affair and this becomes a major concern to Evan who at first attempts to deny his gay side. He dates his best friend, Jane, but when he realizes that this is not for him, he runs away from home and moves in with his older brother. This doesn’t last long and he soon is off to Fort Lauderdale where another brother has a flop-house motel. It is here that he meets Hector, his brother’s part-time lover and assistant. Hector becomes a mentor for Evan who soon moves on once again and he returns to Miami, a bit wiser and more aware but also sadder then when he left before. Following Evan is like following gay awakening in the 1990’s and the reader is privy to the inner workings of a young man’s mind as he deals with whom he is.
“Lawnboy” is romantic and sad as it probes the mind of a boy who is not at peace with himself. Lisicky depicts the longing and need to be accepted in several heartbreaking passages. There is not much new here but what makes this book so special is how beautifully it is written. The innocence of boyhood coupled with the inability to choose makes this an emotional read. Truth is the theme and the novel is on one hand mysterious and on the other hand it is beautiful. I found the book transcendent with tragedy yet filled with love and hope, desire and sexual awakening. It is a rewarding read and meant to be savored slowly.