cover image Ambidextrous: The Secret Lives of Children

Ambidextrous: The Secret Lives of Children

Felice Picano. Gay Presses of New York, $14.95 (200pp) ISBN 978-0-914017-06-6

This fictionalized memoir recounts the adventures of an Italian-American schoolboy as he undergoes the trial of maturity in an upper-middle-class New York City suburb. One teacher hates him because he is left-handed, while another admires his ambition to become a writer and a truthful adult. In a first-person narrative, the hero describes his initiation into the rites of never-quite-innocent and sometimes harmful sex with the precocious Flaherty sisters and his school pal Ricky Hersch; later, there is his love affair with beautiful Franny Solomon whose crippled father is a voyeur. Bearing many resemblances to Doctorow's World's Fair, this novel re-creates a decadethe post-war yearsby limning the attitudes and desires of a young boy growing up and by an itemization of the toys he played with, the books he read, the friends he made and the games he played. But Picano's (The Lure hero is sometimes more sententious than Edgar Altschuler, and the narrative does not really engage one's interest until close to its end. February 22