Malloy, Brian. "The Year of Ice: A Novel", St. Martin's Griffin, 2003.
The Consequences of Deception
Brian Malloy says that the reason he wrote "The Year of Ice" was "to examine what happens to a family when the fiercest loyalties are not to each other, but to one's own secrets". It's a brave idea and something most of us have lived with during the coming-out process. Set in Minneapolis in 1978, Kevin Doyle, our hero, struggles to cope with his father's responsibility. We see Kevin, at first, as a "normal" and happy seventeen year old but we soon learn of his troubled family life and that he has a crush on one of his best male friends. Kevin's father, Pat, is a 40 year old widower who has many romantic interests. When Kevin learns that his mother's death in an accident may have been caused in part by Pat's infidelity, he becomes furious and he becomes ever angrier when he learns that the woman that his father was cheating with is pregnant by Pat. Pat marries the woman but only after an affair first. Kevin's senior year of high school and freshman year at college were not the best for him. Kevin is in love with Jon Thompson who is unaware of that. However, the gay aspect of the novel is not the major issue; what is the troubled father/son relationship which is heightened since Kevin's mother was a suicide victim because of his father. A lot happens here with both the parent/son relationship and the gay coming-out story going on at the same time. We do see Kevin as a tall and handsome average student who knows he is gay. He is smarter than he realizes and extremely self-possessed. He goes through a really rough period and he deals with things as best he can. Malloy's writing is beautifully filled with details and he writes with a dark brilliance. The novel is sensitive and this is because we read the book in Kevin's voice. This allows for the reader to identify with the hero as well as to allow us to see what it is to live in a world that we do not understand.
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Amos Lassen (amoslassen)
I am an academic who reivews movies and books of interest to the GLBT and Jewish communities. I came to Arkansas after having been relocated here due to Hurricane Katrina. I was living in … more
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A gay high school senior struggles to cope with his father's irresponsibility in Malloy's poignant, quietly effective debut, set in Minneapolis in the late '70s. From the outside looking in, protagonist Kevin Doyle seems like a normal, party-happy 17-year-old, but the combination of a troubled family life and his secret crush on one of his best friends definitely sets him apart from the pack. The family issues revolve around his dad, Pat, an ordinary 40-something widower with plenty of romantic prospects as the book opens. But Kevin is furious when he learns that Pat's infidelity may have contributed to the car accident that took his mother's life, and his anger increases exponentially when his father impregnates the woman he had the affair with, then marries her after a brief dalliance with another woman. Malloy's coming-of-age narrative can be generic, but he handles the gay angle nicely as he explores Kevin's difficulty in finding an outlet for his hormonal urges even as he struggles to maintain a relationship with a classmate named Allison Minczeski, who falls for him. The author also displays a razor-sharp comic touch in the verbal sparring between father and son as Pat tries to bring his instant family together, and he balances the comedy with some touching scenes after Pat messes up his latest domestic venture. Malloy shows plenty of talent in his gay spin on the genre, and this debut bodes well for his literary future. Copyright 2002 ...