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

by Allison Burnett
     
 

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,

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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786717590
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/28/2006
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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