Vroom vroom! This week’s book is automatic, systematic, highly dramatic … it’s G…G…G…G… Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo.
That painful Grease reference is due to the fact that this book marries teenage angst with fast cars and hot boys – with or without the quiffs. In reality though, it’s closer to a Springsteen Song – all tortured youth, broken hearts, racing the in the street and darkness on the edge of town.
It tells the tale of Andrew – a sexually confused young man who relocates to a Tennessee University town in the wake of his friend’s death. What, and who, he finds there changes his life and his understanding of who, exactly, he is. And it’s all haunted by a fearsomely possessive phantom that just won’t leave Andrew alone.
Ghosts aside though, Summer Sons still packs a punch. Lee blends the two sides of southern gothic fiction. On one hand, there’s the supernatural, on the other the very real drama of history and violence that permeates the genre. It also showcases modern masculinity in all its ugliness, with a few strands of beauty, and refracts the whole thing through a dark version of the campus novel.
Lee and I talk about how white masculinity often escapes critical appraisal, how academia is the perfect setting for horror, the thrill of living lives that span the class barrier, and we try to pin down exactly what we mean by ‘Southern Gothic’.
Oh, and we both complain bitterly about the nightmare that is postgraduate study.
Summer Sons was published September 28th by Tor.
Other books mentioned in this episode include:
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