Pines’ debut memoir offers a lighthearted, entertaining tale about his time on Altamont Court—a small, suburban cul-de-sac in Morristown, N.J.—and the neighbors who became his surrogate family.
The author repeatedly notes that he never envisioned himself having a white-picket-fence kind of life. However, that’s exactly what he got when he moved, with his partner, Ken, to Altamont Court, a quiet suburban neighborhood filled with zany, inquisitive and lovable neighbors. The memoir’s first section centers on Pines’ story of renovating a “half-million-dollar fixer-upper” home soon after he and Ken arrived in Morristown—a disastrous undertaking that’s similar to the one in the 1986 comedy film The Money Pit, which the author quotes throughout. The latter, and longer, section focuses on the couple’s life on Altamont Court after the renovation was complete and their relationships with their neighbors, including Karla, the outspoken matriarch next door; her tomboy daughter, Erin, who became Pines’ “faux goddaughter”; and Davin, Karla’s youngest son, who was “as honest and sincere as they come.” Ultimately, the stories here are simply amusing, at best, but the author’s voice and personality make this book highly entertaining. Pines is an honest, self-deprecating narrator (“Once we were boarded, I drugged myself with an Ambien, two Xanax, and two shots of vodka and woke up as we landed....Believe me when I say it’s in everyone’s best interest that I remain anesthetized on long international flights”), and reading his book feels like having a conversation with an old friend. This memoir is also notable for its real-life story of a committed gay couple living a peaceful domestic life, something rarely portrayed in the popular culture.
A heartwarming memoir featuring funny stories of suburban life.