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Monday, February 10, 2020

Born Slippy by Tom Lutz: A Review

TitleBorn Slippy: A Novel
Author: Tom Lutz
Genre: noir, thriller
Publish date: January 14, 2020
Publisher: Repeater/Penguin Random House
Page count: 296

📙Book Details

The protagonist Frank Baltimore is a bit of a loser, struggling by as a carpenter and handyman in rural New England when he gets his big break, building a mansion in the executive suburbs of Hartford. One of his workers is a charismatic eighteen-year-old kid from Liverpool, Dmitry, spending his summer before university in the US. Dmitry is a charming sociopath, who develops a fascination with his autodidactic philosopher boss, perhaps thinking that, if he could figure out what made Frank tick, he could be less of a pig. Dmitry heads to Asia and makes a neo-imperialist fortune as an investment banker, leaving a trail of corpses in his wake. When Dmitry’s office building in Taipei explodes in an enormous fireball, Frank heads to Asia, meets Dmitry’s wife, and things go from bad to worse. 

✏️ Review of the Book

The story is mainly focused on two characters, Frank and Dimitry. Their simple acquaintance and an initially master-apprentice kind of relationship grew more intense as they became more involved in each other's lives. 

We get a glimpse of Dimitry's strong nonchalant character even at the beginning of the story. He addresses Frank who is much older than him as Franky. It does not matter to him if he cut the wrong measurements for the house they were building, or if anyone would be deeply affected when he sets up women for prostitution, or make out with someone else's wife for as long as it benefits him emotionally, financially, and physically. Frank saw that in him.  "Youth loves a narcissist. They do not care about anyone or anything other than one’s own pleasure and profit." Dimitry's greed, and deceitful ways caused him to become cold and merciless. He can even use his own family and friends as his puppets to protect and secure himself with no feeling of remorse at what he does. Eventually, they lose everything of value. Those who are older, Frank decided, finally "see narcissists for what they are — they are the death of love, the death of beauty."

Frank, on the other hand was not perfectly painted but he has his own principles. He is not Lulu's and Kennedy's biological father but his fondness and concern for their welfare reveals a fatherly side to him. This may be the reason why he managed to put up with Dimitry's extremely impertinent ways throughout the story. He became Dimitry's 'puppet' like some of the characters. It was not because he is dull but because he feels for the people who fell victim to Dimitry's cunning manipulations. Sometimes, however, people have no other choice. "They're pushed into it by economic circumstance" like himself. In the same way, those brief pleasures and encounters he had in the past, wells up from an inner "desire to validate himself and to feed his need for.approval." He, too,  came to realize that "there is nothing to be done about the past and he learned a few other things as well." The lessons Frank has learned in the end were metaphorically written and beautifully said.

Finally, the book's title, Born Slippy is likened to the song, Born Slippy by Underworld. Similarly, it reflects on the personalities of the characters, how age, time, and circumstance has changed them; their regrets and realizations, and how they reconcile them in the end. It also reflects on responsibility and freedom- it's excess and consequences. The author, too has inculcated several insights about life from famous literary personalities  in Frank's and Dimitry's conversations and silent contemplations. It somehow gives us a thought about the author's good knowledge of literature. 

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ A good read for the youth

👤 The Author

Tom Lutz is a writer of books, articles, and
screenplays, the founder of the Los Angeles Review of Books, and is now Distinguished Professor at UC Riverside. His books include American Book Award winner Doing Nothing, New York Times notable books Crying and American Nervousness1903, the travel books And the Monkey Learned Nothing and Drinking Mare’s Milk on the Roof of the World, and coming on January 14, 2020, Born Slippy: A Novel.
He has written for television and film, and appeared in scores of national and international newspapers, magazines, academic journals, and edited collections. He is working with a Los Angeles-based production company on a television show set in the 1920s, is finishing a third collection of travel pieces, a book on the 1920s (The Modern Surface), and is in the early stages of a book on global conflict along the aridity line.
Twitter: @TomLutz22
Instagram: @tmlutz22

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