Atmospheres Apollinaire

Mark Frutkin, Author
Mark Frutkin, Author David R. Godine Publisher $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87923-869-8
Open Ebook - 217 pages - 978-1-55488-495-7
Paperback - 217 pages - 978-0-88878-391-2
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-280-57627-0
Open Ebook - 217 pages - 978-1-4597-0249-3
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French first novelist Belloc, writing a curt minimalist prose, pulls the reader fast into the callous Parisian working-class world of his protagonist, Denis, who at 11 hangs around public urinals to trade sex with men. Denis cannot forgive his father, an amateur boxer, for dying and deserting him in infancy; his mother, referred to as ``she,'' likes to park Denis and his brother, Alain, at a children's farm for the summer. Unsurprisingly, Denis is pervaded by a sense of ``absence.'' When his mother marries a coarse tough called the Spaniard, Denis and his stepfather come to blows. Denis and Alain, often in trouble and in jail, resign themselves to petty crime and brutality. Denis welcomes his role as a male prostitute, cruising the seedy, neon-lit boulevards. Denis's random affairs and growing emotional numbness are convincingly portrayed, as is his short-lived attachment to Gloria, a ``hormone-fed'' drag queen who consoles him with mothering and lullabyes. Less believable are Denis's uncaring real mother's characterization as a painter and her encouragement of his creativity with gifts of art supplies. Episodic in structure, the novella takes Denis abroad with a new patron, Nono the Greek. Apparently at a loss for an ending, the author concludes in scattershot style. Despite its flaws, Neons resonates with an authenticity that is raucous, sad and racy. (May)
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