The House Beautiful: A Novel of High Ideals, Low Morals, and Lower Rent

Overview

B.K. Troop — a middle-aged, witty, bipolar, alcoholic homosexual — lives alone in a cramped New York apartment. His life is turned upside down when his best friend, Sasha Buchwitz, dies and leaves him her Manhattan brownstone. To afford the property tax, B.K. turns his new home into a colony for young, struggling artists, to whom he can serve as mentor, if not muse. He christens the place the House Beautiful. The House Beautiful tells the story of a fateful summer when a young man named Adrian Malloy arrives at ...

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Overview

B.K. Troop — a middle-aged, witty, bipolar, alcoholic homosexual — lives alone in a cramped New York apartment. His life is turned upside down when his best friend, Sasha Buchwitz, dies and leaves him her Manhattan brownstone. To afford the property tax, B.K. turns his new home into a colony for young, struggling artists, to whom he can serve as mentor, if not muse. He christens the place the House Beautiful. The House Beautiful tells the story of a fateful summer when a young man named Adrian Malloy arrives at B.K.'s door, lugging a suitcase and dragging a garbage bag crammed with what B.K. presumes to be odes and sonnets. Overjoyed to have found a new poet, B.K. sweeps Adrian into his home and under his wing. Although Adrian is the spitting image of John Keats, he is not a poet. He is an astronomy student, who has sought out B.K. for very private reasons, which he is reluctant to reveal. At once hilarious, romantic, wise, and lunatic, The House Beautiful tells the story not only of B.K.'s emerging friendship with Adrian, but of all the artists' adventures that summer, as they struggle to make art and love.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the follow-up to 2003's Christopher, screenwriter Burnett continues the story of B.K. Troop, a hilariously repugnant and flamboyant middle-aged gay novelist. Living on a small trust, B.K. is tickled pink when a friend dies and bequeaths him a Manhattan brownstone until he crunches the numbers. To cover taxes and mortgage payments, B.K. rents rooms on the cheap to young painters, writers and actors, turning the home, in effect, into an artists' colony he calls "The House Beautiful." Discreet peepholes and B.K.'s penchant for snooping allow him to keep tabs on his lodgers; some find success, others founder, and interpersonal relationships are frequently tense. The balance of the house changes with the arrival of Adrian Malloy, a poet from the Midwest whose good looks make him the unwitting object of B.K.'s lust. The novel's main dramatic thrust hinges on Adrian's story essentially the tale of a young man's creative awakening in the big city and on the gradual disclosure of his past, which bears surprising connections with B.K.'s own. Though B.K. is exquisitely realized, his narcissism short-changes secondary characters. However, lively prose and gonzo humor pick up the slack. (Nov. 5) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In this standalone sequel to Burnett's Christopher, narrator B.K. Troop, an outrageous gay dilettante of dubious sanity and a decidedly pre-Stonewall sensibility, writes of his struggles to assemble an artists' colony while unemployed and living off creativity and financial loopholes in Manhattan. Thanks to B.K.'s cheap rental rates, the house is quickly populated by a menagerie of painters, writers, actors, and musicians of both sexes and various orientations, but it's the handsome, mysterious-and straight-young newcomer Adrian who especially evokes Troop's desire to mentor. Burnett's cockamamie narrator is at times too overbearing to let the other characters breathe, and the material sometimes verges on the sentimental, but he skillfully handles multiple story lines, and he has a strong gift for wit-Troop's opening prolog, addressed to critics of his previous novel, is a thesaurus-fueled riot that could give a Bulwer-Lytton judge heartburn. Zaniness and occasional raunch aside, the novel is sweet and at times even wise, a celebration of la vie boh me. Recommended for public libraries, especially where there are fans of Armistead Maupin, Patrick Dennis, and John Waters.-Stephen Sposato, Chicago P.L. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The Greenwich Village demimonde never seemed so demented. B.K. Troop can't stop dreaming. Boatloads of Austrian pinot noir that he downs virtually before lunch help keep the fantasy alive, but mainly he's just high on life-the literary life, that is, starring B.K. Troop. Burnett (Christopher, 2003) creates in this wreck of a faux novelist a memorable comic lead. Right before electro-convulsive therapy fells her, Sasha Buchwitz, Troop's dearest pal and muse, leaves him her brownstone, but he's stone broke. Solution? Rent out the heap as an artists' colony. Here they come: filmmakers with coke habits, experimental painters favoring gynecological themes, addled lesbian folk singers. But of all his guests, Troop fawns fiercest over a greenhorn from the bland Midwest, Adrian Malloy, "the spitting image," Troop chirps, "of Johnny Keats, my favorite Romantic poet." Problem One: Troop's already spoken for, by Pip, the gnomic Vietnamese with the mysterious violent past. Problem Two: Adrian's not really a poet. Instead, fleeing the cornfields after his father's death, he's arrived with a trash bag stuffed with dad's physics theories. Discovering his dead dad was perhaps a closet genius, Adrian grieves and moons and whimpers, but hardly notices Troop, who, between fantasizing about George Meredith and Bulwer-Lytton, spends most of his time trying to make Adrian the fly to his spider. Why not scheme? After all, he quips, "ethics are a luxury of the secure." The plot here is dandy, mainly along the lines of speed-freak French farce. But the true joy is Troop's champagne-giddy language and his besotted love for his houseful of bohemians. Armistead Maupin on laughing gas.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786717590
  • Publisher: Avalon Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/2006
  • Pages: 231
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Allison Burnett is the author of the acclaimed novel Christopher, which was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Literary Award in Fiction. In addition to writing novels, he writes and directs motion pictures. He lives in Los Angeles, CA

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Table of Contents

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2007

    Made Me Laugh

    The House Beautiful made me laugh through the whole entire thing. BK Troop is one of the most funny characters to ever be put on paper. I felt in love with his personallity and the way he took Aidran under his wing. The others in the house were also very entertaining. Their lives were very screwed up and that made them even more likeable. Aidran was the kid struggling with his father's death and that made me really sad and it reminded me of my grandfathers death. The House Beautiful should definitly be on your list for a summer read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2006

    The House Beautiful is the Novel Wonderful

    If you value your literary homeland, and think of books as buildings, then join me in insisting on a preservation order for The House Beautiful. Built (written) by Allison Burnett, it has the depth, the width and the height to carry the Babel of tongues, confusions, emotions, crushes, and zinging barbed wit, which cascade from it's chief resident, BK Troop, as he pushes forwards his dream of transforming an inelegant, down at heel Brownstone into a low rent artists colony in Babylon... well Manhattan then. The House Beautiful is the home of endangered species: believable, eccentric, willful, memorable, fully dimensioned characters, who could pop off the page, wipe the printers ink off them, and be one of us - maddened, unhappy, lustful, mouths agape as every green light turns puce before them, and as conflicted as the next person. Could you say this of Harry Potter, don't think so. Jay Mcinerney ? Bret Easton Ellis? Ian McEwen, doubt it, Martin Amis, don't get me started! I got face to face for the first time with BK Troop a couple of years ago when I got hold of a copy of Christopher, the author's debut novel. Then I reeled...in elation, not in horror. At last a character so distinct, so marked, that it can only be an injustice that his name has n't become a synonym for some kind of mood or behaviour. Who can be as rancorous, can swagger with bitchy brio, twiddle his thumbs nervously, emote as keenly as any adolescent, possess an enviable faculty for whiplash wit, and seems to channel the soul not just of the Knight of the Doleful Countenance, but of Shakespeare's Malvolio, a little touch of William Burroughs, and the hissing whisper of Truman Capote, than Mr Troop. Tell me, 'cos I've yet to find them. Of course, the worry is always - Second Album Syndrome - will the next album, play, novel be as stunning as the first. How common is it for our affections to be stolen the first time round, only for the artist to be painfully swimming ashore to an indifferent world from the shipwreck of their follow on piece. So, what do I think? It's like this, I'm scanning the horizon, and it's clear, not a thing, there's no one wading ashore. This is a great novel. The writing is enviable. And it seems to be coming to the author so effortlessly. By ye words may ye be judged, so they say. Judge me, buy the book, I think I'm right.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2006

    The Further Adventures of B.K. Troop

    Allison Burnett has succeeded in creating a literary character so unique and thoroughly painted that in his first novel CHRISTOPHER B.K. Troop emerged as a middle aged, overweight, fussy, alcoholic gay man whose distorted views of his world provided us with some of the finest comic writing of the past few years. Happily, Burnett has given us another installment in what many of us hope will be a continuing saga of this strangely loveable dreamer. B.K. Troop has just inherited a Manhattan brownstone from his beloved friend Sasha Buchwitz, allowing him to move form his meager quarters into a large house he calls The House Beautiful ¿ with large mortgage payments, payments he can only meet by taking in renters. This event opens the opportunity for Troop to fulfill his dream of being the muse and champion of artists. By advertising the rooms in his new edifice as `low rent¿ he attracts artists of all types - the sole proviso being that those selected as tenants repay his generosity by actively pursuing their particular art form. And so we gradually meet his tenants: Carl Alan Dealy is a hygienically challenged actor waiting for audition calls that never come Michael is a philosopher whose musings on his own character serve as fodder for his writings Mary Pilago is a lesbian singer-songwriter who concentrates more on transient bed mates than on practicing her guitar and singing Miranda Buchner is an Expressionist painter waiting for her `big show¿ while she pines for Michael¿s attentions Louise D¿Aprix is a writer committed to her typewriter to create the longest novel ever written. Into this hot bed of artists playing their desires for are against their escapades with sensual needs enters one Adrian Malloy, a very young lad carrying a garbage bag of what Troop perceives as vast pages of poetry and writings. In reality Adrian is an astronomy student who has fled to Manhattan to escape his confining Midwest home of his recently deceased parents, people with oddly occult ties to the unknowing Troop! How Troop influences the lives of these characters (while simultaneously dealing with his new lover, Vietnamese cook Pip who proves to be a truly colorful number!) is the playing field on which Burnett weaves his fascinatingly integrated tales from another city (in some ways related to Armisted Maupin¿s San Francisco `Tales of the City¿ series). Troop may be a demanding queen but he is also the loving and caring stimulus for those disparate but co-dependent tenants. His particular devotion to drawing out the `poet¿ in Adrian is witty and wise and lovely. ¿A biologist is able to tell you why a fly is able to sustain itself in flight. Only a port can describe why it annoys you.¿ Burnett¿s gift (and a superb writer he is!) lies in his ability to create strong characters, exploring each of them thoroughly while very carefully maintaining an interaction among all of them. Each artist contributes at times inadvertently but always cohesively to the changes that occur in the summer of communal living. But always at the helm is the wholly engrossing B.K. Troop, besieged by misadventures in love, at times hilarious but with equal portions of compassion as a true Impresario. Think Diaghilev, Tennessee Williams, Divine, with a dollop of Gertrude Stein and Troop begins to come into focus. Burnett knows his craft well. He is simply wildly entertaining while remaining a highly literate and brilliant writer. Highly Recommended.

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