THE YEAR OF ICE by Brian Malloy


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A coming-of-ager about a gay teenager in the 1970s Twin Cities.

Kevin Doyle is the sort of outwardly normal midwestern type that Garrison Keillor works into his Prairie Home Companion routines. An easygoing jock at Northeast High in Minneapolis in 1978, Kevin hangs out with friends, gossips about who got sickest last Saturday, bags groceries at the Red Owl, and makes fun of his teachers behind their backs. He is also in love with classmate Jon Thompson. Kevin’s mother died in a car accident two years earlier, and the boy helps his father fend off the widows lining up for him by claiming his father is about to remarry, or has become a Muslim, or is moving away. Unfortunately for Kevin, the girls seem to be lining up for him, too, and he tries hard to avoid getting involved without letting on that he’s gay. One night, however, he is so horrified at finding his beloved Jon Thompson hitting on classmate Allison that he asks Allison out himself—and she accepts. Soon he finds he's fallen for Jon more deeply than he could have hoped. About the same time, he learns that his father had been seeing another woman when his mother had her accident—or could it have been suicide? Spiteful Aunt Nora is happy to provide plenty of innuendo, and Kevin takes advantage of his position at the Red Owl to wreak revenge on the other woman, a regular customer. Eventually, he comes to terms with his father and finds some measure of domestic peace, but Kevin also figures out that the best way to get on in life is to get on in the world—and move away from home.

Amiable, told briskly and with considerably style—and happily lacking in the mawkish cant that mars so many gay memoirs. First-timer Malloy is director of the Loft in Minneapolis.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-312-28948-0
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2002