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The Life I Lead

Banner, Keith

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ISBN 10: 0375403760 / ISBN 13: 9780375403767
Verlag: Knopf, New York, 1999
Gebraucht Zustand: Fine Hardcover
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0375403760 Near fine in near fine dust jacket. First edition Quality, Value, Experience. Media Shipped in New Boxes. Buchnummer des Verkäufers BING7976466

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Bibliografische Details

Titel: The Life I Lead

Verlag: Knopf, New York

Erscheinungsdatum: 1999

Einband: Hardcover


Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Dust Jacket Included

Auflage: 1st Edition

Über diesen Titel


A stunning debut novel about obsessional passion and a morally ambiguous love, about an upstanding family man in an Indiana town who finds himself caught in the grip of desire for a young boy.

Dave Brewer, married to Tara--they have an eighteen-month-old daughter--is a meter reader for Indiana Gas. He helps his ailing father. He drives a bus for the Norris Road Baptist Church. He enjoys a good round of golf. He has everything he wants: family, community, a steady job. Until one day at a public pool, he sees a boy, a quiet loner, in whom he sees himself.

The boy, Nathan, has cut his foot at the pool. Something in his scared, innocent eyes awakens a powerful compassion in Dave that gradually emerges as something more: an obsession both physical and spiritual ("I feel what I feel for him in the back of my mouth, in the muscles in my hands").

As his interest in Nathan evolves from sympathy to love, Dave can no longer deny the complexity of his feelings--he desires Nathan at the same time that he wants to save him. His feelings for the boy--summoning up a crucial, long-forgotten memory from his own boyhood--propel him into the crisis of his life.

What happens is told in a shocking but fully human story of the power of love and the fragility of innocence.


Keith Banner is a refreshingly idiosyncratic writer; his prose is swift and unencumbered; it pulls the reader in like strange music. The Life I Lead is Banner's debut novel; it's the story of David Brewer, a pedophile who is trying to be a normal guy, but who cannot keep away from the swimming pool where the beautiful young boys congregate. He thinks he is in love with one particular boy, Nathan, and he pursues him, offers him ice cream, and takes him to the Motel 6. Dave is a churchgoing family man--he believes God is out there--but he cannot help thinking that God will forgive him, because his desire feels so unmistakable and true, like a blessing or a form of destiny.

The novel's momentum comes from Dave's struggle with temptation. He dreams of succumbing to his love of boys, but he is so afraid of his desires he needs to drink screwdrivers in his car at lunchtime. In church one night, they show an antigay video with images of National Association of Man-Boy Love members in a parade. Dave imagines himself at home among those men: "Marching down the street in Anderson, Indiana, me some naked freak smiling like a crocodile, whooping it up, holding a boy's hand.... and yet I knew it was all over and we were, all of us, being marched off to wherever freaks like us are made to go." After the film, church members discuss the perverts in outraged voices, and Dave sits among them, nodding in agreement. He acts the part of the moral man but he knows it is a bluff. He is an interloper in the acceptable world.

The Life I Lead is burdened by a glaring point-of-view problem. Although it is clearly Dave's story, Banner shifts between narrators. Each chapter belongs to a different character, but the voice itself changes very little. The novel's murmuring poetry remains hypnotically constant, and as a result the reader comes away with the odd impression that Dave's perspective is universal. One wonders why Banner would so deliberately break down the barriers between characters in a novel about disconnection and isolation; why he would undermine the narrative of loneliness with the illusion of a common language. --Emily White

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