Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick

The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick
Published August 2015 by Algonquin Books at Chapel Hill
Source: my Netgalley copy courtesy of the publisher

Publisher's Summary:
1980s Manhattan shimmers like the mirage it was, as money, power, and invincibility seduce a group of young Wall Street turks. Together they reach the pinnacle, achieving the kind of wealth that grants them access to anything--and anyone. Until, one by one, they fall.

My Thoughts:
"When you strike a match, it burns brighter in the first nanosecond than it will ever burn again. That first incandescence. That instantaneous and brilliant flash. The year was 1980, and I was the match, and that was the year I struck into blinding flame."
This is my second book by Robert Goolrick. I own his second book, Heading Out To Wonderful, which I have yet to read. It has a lovely, bright cover and a lovely, bright title and would appear to be a book about lovely, bright people. But I doubt it. It's been my experience that Robert Goolrick writes books filled with exceedingly unlikeable characters. Which is alright because Goolrick is exceedingly good at creating unlikeable characters who suck readers in.

Micheal Douglas & Charlie Sheen
"Wall Street"
Rooney and his band of brothers are those guys they made the movie "Wall Street" about, young bucks who worked for The Firm (read Salomon Brothers) when rules were broken, morals were loose, and drugs were rampant.
"We were the people people wrote about when they wrote about the evils of contemporary society. We made too much money. We spent too much money. We didn't do a single thing to help the less fortunate, which included most of the people on the planet...We felt not one once of remorse."
Thirty years later, after his fall from glory, Rooney looks back with both regret and nostalgia. He is as honest about his sins as he is about how much he misses the lifestyle they afforded. The chapters read as short stories chronicle Rooney's life and those who impacted it: Louis Paterson Trotmeier whose fling with a Madonna-like diva irrevocably changed his life, Harrison Wheaton Seacroft IV who threw himself from a 17th story window when he got the call that meant the world was soon to find out he was a homosexual, and Guilia de Bosset who served as something of a mascot for the boys one summer before she committed suicide.

As much as this is a book about the excesses of the 80's, it's also a book about sexual orientation, the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, and the way that life changed in its wake and the fear the rippled out gay communities and across the United States. If you were of a certain age in the 1980's, you'll remember that fear and the way it changed so many things. Goolrick is eloquent in bringing the story back down to an individual level and to the communities who suffered the most.

Did I like the book? I'm still trying to decide. It sometimes seemed to wallow in itself. But there's no denying that the writing is otherwise beautifully done and that it's a book that will leave the reader thinking.


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