Thursday, 8 January 2015

Alphabet City - an intriguing read.

A masterfully written piece about self discovery and escape from a life that is dead and fake in every sense of the word into one that holds many problems and overwhelming lows - but is completely validated by the fact that it is a truthful attempt at living and as teaming with life as a river full of salmon.

The story is about Peter and the crushing blow of the death his beloved aunt, which seems to be down to the fact that he accidentally gave her the wrong pills following a seizure, the loveless marriage with his wife Kit, which appears mainly motivated by her materialistic concerns, the fear he feels that he may be blamed and punished for his aunt's death, propel him to make a move to New York. Here he discovers the seedy underbelly of the city as he pursues homosexual desires he has hitherto been unaware of. He meets Joe, a black American actor, whom he feels love for, a love Joe seems unable to return due to circumstances and a past that makes it difficult for him to process emotions such as love. He has many adventures, as he learns to live psychologically and financially in New York.

Wonderfully written, David Price encapsulates New York in all its threatening, harsh, neurotic, filthy glory - expresses the effects it has on lost, lonely, searching people like Peter. Price is also the master of landscapes, magically descriptive, evoking moods, almost taking on the role of characters.

The story has an authentic feel, I recognised parallel emotions from my time in London. There are also classical themes underscoring the story, the search for the shadow, being one such example and is so relevant, how many of us are searching for our shadows in empty modern society. I did find the graphic homosexual sex a little uncomfortable at first. I hope this does not make me sound homophobic, I enjoy the work of many gay writers and performers, but the sexual side is not something I personally enjoy.

Overall, the book is an enriching experience - seek to be yourself - "To thine own self be true". A liberating message which has worked for so many individuals of varying backgrounds over the centuries.

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