Eternal Graffiti

Story Plant. Sept. 2022. 352p. ISBN 9781611883329. pap. $16.95. F
In 2008, Pete MacDonald (The Battered Suitcase) wrote a New York Times “Modern Love” piece about a man visiting his estranged mother’s grave. It’s moving, seemingly autobiographical, spare, and direct. In this new novel written under a pseudonym, he covers similar territory with less success, relating years in the life of Owen Kilroy, from 1970 to 1980. Owen’s a small-time high school drug dealer, who escapes Wagon Train Ranch for Boys and heads to Venice Beach in search of his buddy Shooky, who owes him a thousand bucks. He moonlights in pornos to scrape up enough cash for pot and mac and cheese. Then he meets the love of his life at a surf shop. Keira’s a sexually liberated UCLA student from Ireland, who lacks an Irish accent and the ability to choose men who are worthy of her. They get married. They move to New York. Tragedy strikes. Unfortunately, this rendition lurches from scene to scene in fits and starts, with stilted dialogue. At turns melodramatic and banal, it would benefit from judicious editing and a singular through line.
VERDICT Skip this one and hope that the author returns to the pared down, more skillful style of his previous work.
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