Deprivation, or, Benedetto Furioso: An Oneiromancy

Alex Jeffers, Author
Alex Jeffers. Lethe (www.lethepressbooks.com), $18 trade paper (314p) ISBN 978-1-59021-092-5
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Jeffers (You Will Meet a Stranger Far from Home) tries and fails to build literary heft into this queer and fantastical bildungsroman, first written in the early 1990s and displaying all the flaws of the era’s white upper-middle-class gay fiction. Sleep-deprived from an impractical commute, Ben Lansing, a 23-year-old office drone at a Boston temp agency, dreams in feverish colors of his passion for Italian Renaissance literature, particularly Ludavico Ariosto’s epic poem of paladins, Orlando furioso. He soon conjures an alternate reality in which he is the romantic savior of Dario, an impoverished Italian immigrant, and his family, but the recurring dream state becomes increasingly irrelevant as the status quo of his small real-world life is challenged by his parents’ divorce and romantic entanglements. Jeffers endeavors mightily to link the two narratives, but the dream sequences are overwrought, and despite the surreal flourishes, the conclusion perches all too familiarly on the premise of love leading to a new life. (Feb.)
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