A Life Without Consequences) tells the story of two strippers and a call girl who roam grimy "/>

WHAT IT MEANS TO LOVE YOU

Stephen Elliott, Author . MacAdam/Cage $19.50 (145p) ISBN 978-1-931561-18-1

Blearily fatalistic and oddly elegiac, this second novel by Elliott (A Life Without Consequences) tells the story of two strippers and a call girl who roam grimy Halsted Street on Chicago's dark underside. Anthony, 34, still dances for a living, but is slowly losing his grip on street life as he grows older. Beautiful, unbalanced 27-year-old Lance has blue teardrops tattooed under his eyes to indicate how many men he has killed, but is helplessly in love with 17-year-old Brooke, who looks like a schoolgirl and secretly dreams of seducing the father she left behind in Michigan. Anthony observes Brooke and Lance's relationship from a distance while slowly becoming more enmeshed in their lives. As the novel builds to a climax, Lance teeters on the brink of madness, Anthony gradually begins to make a respectable life for himself and Brooke returns to Michigan to settle things with her father. The Chicago descriptions are grittily real, but the affectless present-tense prose ("Anthony looks up at Lance's smiling face. He knows Lance") grows monotonous. All Elliott's characters are cut off from their feelings, each of them a step away from disaster, and the story's conclusion is predictably brutal and unemotional. Elliott's history—he has worked as a stripper himself and grew up in Chicago—gives the novel the stamp of authenticity, but the listlessness of his characters keeps the narrative at a perpetual low ebb. (Oct. 15)

Reviewed on: 09/30/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
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