Polito, Frank Anthony. “The Spirit of Detroit”, Woodward Avenue Books, 2013.
The Motor City
The more that I try to keep up with what is happening in gay literature, the more I fall behind. With what is going on in publishing now, it should be easier but there are more and more books coming out all of the time and I like to be fair in my reviews and read every word which is no easy task. Some books manage to sneak in and I miss them which was the case with Frank Polito’s “The Spirit of Detroit”.
This is the story of Bradley Dayton who we met in “Band Fags” as he tries to find a way to fit in at his new school and he manages pretty well. He makes new friends and he takes us along with then as he explores the theater world of Detroit. In doing so Bradley becomes aware of what he can and cannot do. It was a strange time in America. Madonna was the diva and America was watching Bush and Clinton battle it out for the presidency of this country.
Bradley had once dreamed of becoming an actor, a famous actor at that but he has decided to go to school and major in drama at Wayne State in Detroit. He chose the school because of where it is—in a town with a cultural heritage but that is now dealing with the problem of so many American cities—urban decay. As he becomes acclimated to his new surroundings, a new group of people mess with him and his education and he wanders into the world of backstage theater. By the time his first semester is over, he is still trying to find out who he is. What he was able to find was a lot of trouble.
This is a novel that will take you through the twists and turns of a young life and nothing is as it is expected to be and that includes Bradley.
Having never been to Detroit, I knew nothing about the city before reading this and I felt as if I was sitting next to someone who was leading me by the hand and explaining it all to me. But more than a story about Detroit, this is the story of a young man coming to terms with himself as he strives to reach his goals. There is a lot of sex in the book and we see how distracting this can be for someone with high hopes and a high libido. This is a good deal darker than the two novels that preceded it (“Band Fags” and “Drama Queers!”) but then Bradley has grown up a bit and college can be daunting. I enjoyed the read and now I have to wonder what happens next? Now that the author has left the Big Apple to actually live in a suburb of Detroit will we be hearing more about the city?