Small Ironies
by Peter J. Bergman
Author Reputation Press

"Dad's a pimp, mom's a call girl, granny's a whore and my sister has been a kept woman since the age of sixteen. An Ideal Family by Oscar Wilder."

Max Draper has been raised with more honesty, love, tolerance, and grace than is the norm in most American families despite the Drapers' peculiar generational occupation of prostitution. He is exposed to much more frank sexual conversation than is usual. Still, he manages to keep his balance despite discomfort with what could be a more traumatic situation had his father been less down-to-earth and his mother and grandmother far less classy and beloved by all who know them. Max is encouraged to explore his sexual feelings with both males and females. Eventually, he chooses a gay lifestyle, followed by an off-and-on stab at a bisexual orientation, particularly regarding his ongoing relationship with his childhood friend, Freddy (short for Fredericka).

Authenticity shines through this unusual but memorable tale. Bergman's leisurely rendered yet precise prose meanders through the detail of this unique coming-of-age story. It rides on the waves of both a practical, biographical bent and the elegance of a deeply examined literary stance. The story is punctuated by a serial first-person viewpoint that is a bit startling, though the voices of each character are distinct, and their chapters are marked with specific epigraphs. In this respect, the storytelling feels most natural whenever the tale returns to Max's point of view. Bergman digs deep into the psyches of all his characters, revealing both beauty and flaw with the absolute irony that accompanies the spiral of harmony and tragedy surrounding those Max loves most. The interplay of duty and loyalty, libidinal discretion and indiscretion, secrets and betrayal, and pain and loss play out in the familiar and robust environments of New York City and London, giving the brilliant debut novel a classic, cinematic ambiance.

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