This book was provided as a free review copy by the author.
John Gorman's first novel Shades of Luz is a fun read, though I must admit I'm a little surprised it found a publisher. That's not criticism. It's just that the book is hard to classify, and classification––or genre––seems to carry far too much weight with agents and publishers these day. Happily All Things That Matter Press must be somewhat more flexible.
Shades of Luz is part coming-of-age novel and part love story and even a bit surreal at times. Benny Fluke is a 29-year-old still living at home and working on his Master's thesis, the subject of which he keeps changing. He meets the elusive Luz while selling stuffed animals for a fake charity, and from then on she threads through the story, popping in and out of his life, encouraging him to move out of his parents' house, eventually sharing his apartment, but always hovering between friend and lover. The story is enlivened still more by some oddball and humorous minor characters and Benny's unusual workplace where he goes from overseeing the monkeys who pick stocks on a dartboard to championship thumb wrestling within the same company. And then there's that strange secret about Benny's Mom.
As a Baby Boomer I'm used to thinking of coming-of-age novels dealing with teens, but 29 is probably on target for the current coming-of-age generation. One thing that did confuse me a bit about the novel was the time period in which it was set. While much of it seemed current, Benny's workplace seemed a little futuristic, though maybe it was just meant to be fantastic. Whatever, it added interest and humor.
I "met" John Gorman when I accepted and edited Boba Fett Blues, my last official job with The Rose & Thorn. So I wasn't surprised that Gorman is at his best in those scenes that reminisce on childhood and adolescence.
Here's wishing John Gorman success with Luz and all future endeavors.