Gravesend, by William Boyle … once again, bouncing around some of the writers’ pages I haunt on Facebook pays off … and this time it pays off big time.
So far this year, at least for me, Gravesend is one of the very best reads I’ve come across. The staccato narrative and the introspective grit of characters trapped in the mores of anachronistic familial and neighborhood mindsets are simply brilliant.
Ray Boy Calabrese is fresh out of the joint for his participation in the killing of a gay kid chased onto the Belt Parkway at the Plum Beach exit in Brooklyn. Ray Boy has just finished a 16-year bid, no easy shakes, but he’s out and just not the same guy he used to be. He’s a man now, but only sure of one thing--he deserves to die. Ray Boy has a nephew, Eugene, a kid enamored with his uncle for all the wrong reasons. He lives the typical punk fantasy all too familiar from watching movies about bad-asses ruling the roost. This genius wants to take on a local mobster’s card game to declare his bona fides as a criminal worthy of his uncle’s respect.
The gay kid Ray Boy chased onto the Belt 16 years ago, Duncan, had a brother who seems to live for revenge. Conway is the classic underachiever. He has a shit job in a pharmacy and lives a shit life with his father. He hangs out with a guy who fuels his desire for revenge. So Conway drinks and dreams of vengeance. He also dreams of women, especially a girl from the neighborhood who left for Hollywood, but who has also returned at the same time Ray Boy was released. Alessandra hasn’t made it in La-La land and her return to the neighborhood is a depressing one. She looks up an old friend and the two couldn’t be more opposite, but she needs someone to use to get out of the house where her mother’s recent death is a dark cloud her father can’t shake. Alessandra winds up ditching the old friend to head into Manhattan where she meets a movie director-producer seeking an actress and coin for his masterpiece. It just might be a scam, but we won’t find out because Alessandra winds up bedding down a bartender.
It’s the author’s writing that kept me glued to the page and anxious to discuss Gravesend with my wife. She was so intrigued with my enthusiasm, she’s reading the book also now. No spoilers in TK, but the ride you get in Gravesend is well worth the price of admission. It’s a brilliant piece of writing by Mr. Boyle.
Although I was born a Manhattan boy, I was raised in Brooklyn—Canarsie, specifically. Plum beach, so essential to Gravesend, was/is the closest beach to Canarsie. Not only did I go there as a kid, so did my kids, and as it turned out, so did my Mom and Pop back in the day. That’s three generations of Stellas hanging out at Plum Beach. The hate-crime Ray Boy and two of his friends committed when they chased Duncan into parkway traffic is incredibly visual to me. I know the turf well.
If you were born or lived in Brooklyn, pretty much any part of Brooklyn, you’ll want to read Gravesend for the sheer familiarity you’ll feel. If you’re looking for some brilliant writing, Boyle provides it, start to finish. If you’re looking for a read that will keep you turning pages, Gravesend is it. One of the best reads of 2016, if not the best. A truly brilliant novel.
By now it’s all over the place, Bernie Sanders’ answer to an MSNBC question: “Will you vote for Hillary Clinton?” “Yes,” he said.
If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.
The way Bernie proved the election process does not require corporate coin, and the way he exposed the DNC’s corruption, top to bottom, with that single “Yes” … he’s likely undone pretty much all that he achieved.
I’m out a substantial amount of coin and effort for supporting a guy who said he'll vote for the person I wasn't backing--not with a gun to my head. The passion is still there, but it’s no longer holding to a cause gone bad. Think about it. How many of his supporters are going to fall for this shit again and contribute to an “outsider” who “claims” he or she is fighting the establishment from within the establishment? And think of the laugh the establishment he claims he was fighting (and who he just announced he was voting for) must be having today. His was the most significant challenge to the DNC I can remember. Ten plus millions voters. Where do they turn now if they remain dedicated to the cause Bernie just abandoned?
Well, most of us who will hold to our beliefs will likely seek the Green Party. I already have, but if too few do the same, the likelihood is that the DNC’s corrupt choice will win the Presidency ... and then you can kiss your “political revolution” from the left good night for a minimum of 4 years, because if you think HRC is going to yield to the left, you’re taking some serious hallucinogens. Already the DNC has shot down the $15.00 minimum wage Sanders was calling for … as if the DNC was going to listen to anything Sanders has to say after they rigged the process so he couldn’t win.
Sanders claims he promised the Democrat Party he would endorse their nominee. After the sabotaging of his campaign by the DNC, I don’t know how he holds to his promise. Yet some of his supporters cling to a fantasy that he’ll still win the nomination. Hallucinogens, I guess.
And speaking of hallucinogens, the amount of flak I took from die-hard Bernie supporters (a.k.a., blind-faithers and quite possibly brand new lemmings) was comical. “How can you abandon Bernie so easily? Bernie didn’t endorse her! Bernie will win the nomination!”
Sweet Jesus, come off your fucking clouds.
Yesterday I proposed the following, to give Sanders (he’s no longer Bernie to me) one last chance to do the right thing by the millions of people who forked over their coin, time and passion for him. I say protestors to the convention take two shirts with them—a Sanders shirt and a Jill Stein (Green Party) shirt. And if or when Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton, his supporters remove their Sanders shirts and put on their Jill Stein shirts to send a clear signal to the DNC. To wit: He may have jerked us off, but you (the DNC) won’t get the same chance.
GO GREEN, AMICI … if Sanders can’t see what he’s doing to a viable third party, he doesn’t want to see it. Rewarding the DNC after what they did to him and to US is no better than stealing our money and efforts. Nice guy, but in the end, just another Pol.
He can do the right thing come the convention or not. That’s up to him. But all that bullshit about a political revolution? Well, action speaks louder than words, my Brooklyn friend. Action speaks louder than words … and talk is always cheap.
Jill Stein invited Bernie Sanders to join the Green Party … he could bring his supporters there and make them a viable third party overnight … so far he hasn’t responded to their requests.