Cove, Lou. “Man of the Year: A Memoir”, Flatiron, 2017.
When he was twelve-years-old, Lou Cove’s family moved from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to Salem, Massachusetts, a town famed for its witches, Puritans, and sea-captain wannabes. This was the eighth time that he moved in a twelve year period and he decides to just accept the fact that his adolescence is one of paper routes, school bullies, and lust for every girl he likes.
One day, Howie Gordon, an old friend of Lou’s father, free-wheeling (and free-loving) comes from California with his beautiful wife Carly. Howie is everything Lou wants to be— handsome, confident and well-built. Then, over one Thanksgiving dinner, Howie holds up an issue of “Playgirl Magazine”, and opens it to the centerfold and it is his naked picture there. Howie wanted to gain fame and he figured one way to do so was to win the magazine’s Man of the Year award. He wants to have Lou manage his campaign and as Lou and Howie canvas Salem for votes, Lou is forced to deal with his adolescence along with Howie’s search for stardom. This is quite a story and it true yet preposterous. It is a memoir but it is so much more with the way it looks at fatherhood, religion, friendship, nostalgia and the male body. The writing is sensitive and witty and I must say that I was touched by what I read. Here is a coming of age story filled with eccentric characters and lots of detail.
I live in Massachusetts now, not far from Salem where the story is set and I really wish I had come of age here— it sounds like so much fun. Let’s face it, the early teens are difficult for growing up as both body and mind begin to change and move toward adulthood. I often found myself with my mouth agape as I read especially because we do not often get a chance to read a memoir about someone of such a young age.
While at times the story may seem unbelievable, it is all true. Bittersweet with much humor, there is also sadness just like as in life. Cove looks back at his family as he shares his young life with us.