What It Means to Love You

What It Means to Love You

by Stephen Elliott
     
 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Blearily fatalistic and oddly elegiac, this second novel by Elliott (A Life Without Consequences) tells the story of two strippers and a call girl who roam grimy Halsted Street on Chicago's dark underside. Anthony, 34, still dances for a living, but is slowly losing his grip on street life as he grows older. Beautiful, unbalanced 27-year-old Lance has blue teardrops tattooed under his eyes to indicate how many men he has killed, but is helplessly in love with 17-year-old Brooke, who looks like a schoolgirl and secretly dreams of seducing the father she left behind in Michigan. Anthony observes Brooke and Lance's relationship from a distance while slowly becoming more enmeshed in their lives. As the novel builds to a climax, Lance teeters on the brink of madness, Anthony gradually begins to make a respectable life for himself and Brooke returns to Michigan to settle things with her father. The Chicago descriptions are grittily real, but the affectless present-tense prose ("Anthony looks up at Lance's smiling face. He knows Lance") grows monotonous. All Elliott's characters are cut off from their feelings, each of them a step away from disaster, and the story's conclusion is predictably brutal and unemotional. Elliott's history he has worked as a stripper himself and grew up in Chicago gives the novel the stamp of authenticity, but the listlessness of his characters keeps the narrative at a perpetual low ebb. (Oct. 15) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Three characters in search of a life while on the skids in Chicago form the core of Elliott’s graphic and grim second outing, based in part, like his Life Without Consequences (2001), on the author’s own downtrodden youth in that city.

Anthony is a hard-working but aging dancer in male joints on Halsted Street; Brooke is a runaway teenaged call girl catering to the corporate trade; Lance, her boyfriend, is a good-looking, mentally unbalanced stripper and addict. Two years earlier, Lance brought 15-year-old Brooke away from her bleak, upper-class life in Michigan to the slovenly apartment they share, and where he steals her money and abuses her. They encounter Anthony in the Stolen Pony, a strip-dive he’s been forced to work in as age slowly but surely robs him of his appeal. Brooke reaches out to him even though he’s twice her age and wants no friends, and when Lance is jailed for being disorderly, she comes to rely on him. Lance is raped in jail, taking it out on Brooke when he’s released, so that she leaves him, going back home with the belief that she can be her father’s girlfriend. Her overweight, depressed mother still being in residence complicates her plan, but Brooke succeeds in bringing her rock-ribbed Republican dad down—which only disgusts her. So she returns to Chicago to be with Anthony on whatever terms he’ll have her, finding that he’s finally given up dancing to work the door at a different club. Lance, meanwhile, has vanished into Chicago’s Wasteland, where, homeless and addicted, his violent nature more than meets its match.

Crackling with authenticity even as it overflows with despair: this isn’t easy reading, but the raw power on its pages can’t be denied.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781931561181
Publisher:
MacAdam/Cage Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
10/28/2002
Pages:
145
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

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