After his father’s death, Simon Powell moves from sleepy Sibley, Ark., to Los Angeles, where he’s pulled into a seedy underworld.
When Simon Powell was 17, he left home to join the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. He had never considered himself religious, but he hoped the church would help him repress his homosexuality and hide the fact that he was gay from his conservative family. Ultimately, Simon can’t deny who he is and so abandons the church after 10 years. He returns to Arkansas, but when his father dies, he moves to L.A. to reunite with old friends. Once there, he drinks heavily, goes out every night and picks up a cocaine habit. Simon’s friends come and go, many after screwing him over in some way, and his lovers are all interchangeable hustlers. The portrayal of a party boy’s surfeit of sex, drugs and money may be an accurate representation of the ’80s, but it doesn’t make it any more interesting. All of Simon’s relationships are with people who just want drugs or money from him. It’s difficult to become invested in any of the characters; they have no attachment to him and his attraction to them, romantic or otherwise, is equally superficial. He repeatedly makes the same bad decisions in his personal life, readily trusting people who will obviously take advantage of him. When he hits rock bottom after going on a crack binge with yet another young hustler, it’s not surprising or upsetting. One of the most interesting aspects of Simon’s story, his membership in the Unification Church, is not explored enough. He summarizes his time there, but provides disappointingly few memories or specific details.
For a novel so filled with debauchery, it could use a few more real thrills.