Fiction, paperback 218 pgs.
This is a story about young men in the transition between their carefree college years and the realities of responsible manhood. Roy, a twenty-four year old investment analyst in Boston, narrates this story about the two weeks he spends back home in smalltown Massachusetts. He's there to watch his 17 year old brother Bobby while their parents are away in Ireland. He adores Bobby, whom he calls "the Golden Child" for his abilities in sports and academics and his handsome good looks. But he's critical of small town ways and cynical toward everyone from his private school years, which he hated. He seems a little cranky and unlikeable as the story begins but give him time. His two best friends are Mark, who's now a policeman working hard to advance his career, and will let nothing stand in the way of that. Then there's Jay, who's been teaching for a year now and wants to quit. Jay has quit colleges, switched majors more than once, then gone home to live with his strongly Catholic family and teach. He can't seem to settle into anything. His indecisiveness is baffling to friends and family. The bonds of lifelong friendship are strong between Roy and his two friends, forged back in grade school. But they don't hold back criticism of one another or of the decisions each has made. And when trouble comes to one, they're quick to get together and help. Jay will be the one who tests the limits of that friendship when his gambling debts to mob money lenders comes to a head. A surprising turn of events will change everything for them.
But for the few days that Roy's back in town they're going to party like they're teenagers again, drinking, fighting, gambling, and ogling women, hang the consequences. Roy does try to keep a better standard around his little brother though, hoping no will pull out any drugs while Bobby's around. The narration is of an easy-going kind, Roy swears more than he needs to, his thoughts and opinions are clear enough without that. The conversation in the bars at night is sports and more sports. There are many sports references and metaphors throughout the book, mostly baseball. When Roy says that a man "fell like Ivan Drago" or a horse had "muscles that would have made Earl Campbell jealous" the effect was lost on me. I did understand the racing terms though because I had an uncle who had a thing for the horses. Sports are foreign to me otherwise. I think this is a book that most men will really enjoy, or women if they're into sports, although it's a story everyone can relate to. It makes you look back at that time in your own life and smile about yourself. Roy pines for the time when him and his friends were "the kings of innocence" and some of Burns best writing comes out when he describes looking for that special basball card or catching frogs and snakes down by the river as a kid. Everyone is forced to grow up sooner or later, and the author does a good job of showing us the struggles that younger men have with that. His characters are believable, it felt as if I knew these guys, or men just like them. I recommend this book and I hope Burns keeps writing. I'd really like to see what he does next.
Michael burns homepage: http://www.thekingsofinnocence.com/
Thank you to Michael for the lovely copy he sent me.
I'm giving away a FREE copy of The Kings of Innocence by Michael Burns. This is not an ARC but the real thing, gently read.
Open worldwide until midnight Wednesday, September 17, 2008.
1) To enter tell me why you want to read The Kings Of Innocence, or comment on something specific from the review. (Longer comments won't get you an extra entry but they will impress the judge.)
OR if you're reluctant to share your thoughts on this subject:
2) Blog about this giveaway and put a link back to it . If you don't have a blog, email 3 friends telling them about this giveaway and copying me at sfuhringer(at) sympatico(dot) ca.
If you want to do both, you'll having my undying gratitude, but either way one entry per person. I'm hoping for dialogue here, not numbers.
Please leave a contact address if you're entering the giveaway and don't have a blog where I can contact you.
Winner will be announced on Thursday, September 18,2008.