cover image Slot Machine

Slot Machine

Chris Lynch. HarperCollins, $14.89 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-06-023585-7

In its voice, setting, characters and action, this wry account of a Catholic boys' high school orientation camp is so different from Gypsy Davey, Lynch's grim chronicle of urban lowlife, that at first glance it hardly seems to be by the same author. But for all the gallows humor and guys-at-camp mayhem, there is a similar, uplifting theme about maintaining one's selfhood and convictions despite a dehumanizing environment. From the moment he's herded aboard the bus taking him and best friends Mike and Frank off for ``Twenty-One Nights with the Knights,'' the resilient narrator, Elvin Bishop (no reference to the musician of the same name), knows he's the ``fat guy'' whom everyone is going to pick on. Being disinterested in sports as well as physically inept, he fails conspicuously at various sports before he finds his ``slot''-something that everyone must have, according to the militaristic head priest. Although he would like to fit in somewhere, Elvin refuses to compromise himself just to be accepted by others. Ironically, he as well as athletic Mike find some happiness with the misfits in the scorned Arts Sectors, while handsome, popular Frank endures a humiliating, brutal hazing to become one of the campus elite. Wise, thought-provoking and strong-hearted. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)