Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Read: "The Appearance of a Hero" by Peter Levine

Read: The Appearance of a Hero: the Tom Mahoney stories by Peter Levine, 2012, 9781250001221.

Committee book.  Another victim of I-don't-read-to-read-what-I-am-required-to-read syndrome.  Pretty damn good though.  I'm not sure what the subtitle is there for.  Are these stories famous in some literary subculture?  Spoilers follow.

Shortest version:  Rich people get drunk, go to parties, attend famous business schools, and have sex.

Short version:  Young rich people get drunk, go to parties, attend famous business schools and start high paying jobs, and have sex.  Other people are attracted to their beauty and charisma.

Version:  Young rich people get drunk, go to parties, do drugs, attend famous business schools and start high paying jobs, and have sex.  Less attractive and powerful people are attracted to their beauty and charisma.  A powerful undercurrent of children and parents.  Adult children pulling away to independence.  Parents worrying for their kids.  Super rich people looking for surrogate kids in San Diego.  The responsibility and attachment inherent with creating a family.  Some people resist the change and some strive for it.

The stories are about Tom's life from college to death.  Tom is not central to each story but the stories with him in the background do revolve around Tom's wide and changing social circle and help illustrate his life.

Tom is a rare creature.  His charisma naturally, and powerfully, draws men and women.  Beautiful women.  Women make excuses to meet him or be near him, "You dropped your napkin...Do you have the time?...What's good here?"  Tom is a genuinely nice fella.  He treats everyone kindly and with consideration.  He has the ability of some great politicians to make everyone feel like the most important person in the room.

Tom is a party boy.  Bar life, socializing, taking hot girls home to screw is normal.  He is naturally and easily the spark of any party.  He is very good at being a friend.

But, Tom is stupid.  Tom is a mimbo.  He has the handwriting and prose of a third grader Women leave him after a time when they find nothing deeper within Tom to sustain a relationship.  Tom's only strengths are working out and looking good.  He wants more but cannot achieve his desires.  He is close to his father but his dad's pressure, and deep love, push Tom away.  His father's influence during a night of drinking means Tom loses a solid girlfriend he is living with.

Tom life starts strong and the future is wide open.  He's a powerful athlete, he's wealthy, he's handsome, he attends great schools.  Once he is on his own he cannot achieve on his own in business.  Tom only succeeds when partnering with others.  He becomes an itinerant white collar worker.

Levine does not cover Tom's death but he must be around 40 years old.  The last story informs you about Tom's death when a husband has to travel to the funeral and the man's wife is upset the man will not open up about his feelings.  I presume Tom either kills himself or dies from the physical effects of sadness.

1. Levine attended Johns Hopkins.  Sterling Archer was offered a lacrosse scholarship to Johns Hopkins.  Sterling was then shot in a hotel room like Roy Hobbs in The Natural.  Archer is also great with women, bulky and fit, attractive, mentally dense, and drinks too much.
2.  The people are entitled but hard working and competitive.  The entitlement comes because they are already in the system: top schools, business contacts, and they know the behavioral mores.  They are set-up to succeed and make gobs of money but still have to put in the time and effort needed.
3. Only 160 pages.

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