Brennessel, Barry. “Tinseltown”, MLR Press, 2012.
An Amazing First Novel
It is not often that an author has his first novel become a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and I must confess that before the list came out, I had not heard a word about this book. When I was at the Lambda Awards after-party I met Brennessel who graciously asked me if I would review his book and I was glad to oblige. Now that I have read it and thought about it, I can easily see why it was nominated.
The book is the story of Micah Malone, a film student whose academic pursuits are not so academic and whose friends are not what many of us would classify as friends. He has no love life and his life is without direction. His story would make a pretty flat movie… or does it? This is a novel about a group of 20 year old friends who have left home and live on their own in Seattle. The guys are sexually active as the narrator Micah tells us. Al of our characters, but especially Micah are on a journey to find out who they are.
The story is witty and cleverly contracted by the way we meet the characters. Tying everything together is Micah who shares his dreams with us. I see Micah as an “everyboy” (the younger version of an “everyman”) because we can all find something in him that reminds us of the way we live. As we walk with Micah on his journey to life, we find that we stumble with him before we can move forward. He, like so many of us, is waiting for Mr. Right but this not preoccupy him and he is willing to do whatever and to go wherever to search for the man who will get his heart. He wants a good future and seems to want to know what life is all about.
I was pulled into the book from the very first page because of the character of Micah and also because the book is so well written. This is a bit different from other gay novels as it basically deals with a guy and his friends as they try to maneuver their ways through life. The author has drawn some wonderful characters and when he puts dialogue into their mouths, the whole book comes alive.