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Gulliver Takes Manhattan Paperback – May 1, 2012
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"New York is famous for its literary movements...[and] the Facebook generation has produced a number of unlikely breakout stars, including Justin Luke Zirilli." --Advocate.com
"[Zirilli] manages to give his characters depth, fluidity, composition, posture, and sets them all in a background that is believable and vivid. Above all, I didn't want to put the book down." --Garrett Frechette, Examiner.com
"There is a lot of observational humor...in this coming of age story. Good stuff." --Guerillabookworm.com
"Your beach bag isn't complete without this debut novel...comically divided into four 'rounds' that might also serve to remind you it's time to apply more sunscreen." --Donalevan Maines, Out Smart magazine
About the Author
Justin Luke Zirilli is the co-director and head promoter of BoiParty.com, a New York-based gay nightlife events company. He and his business partner, Alan Picus, throw weekly dance parties around New York City, and larger events across the United States. In addition to event planning, Justin feeds his addiction to social media as the creator of Gorgeous, Gay and Twenty-Something, a private international Facebook group, as the New York correspondent of the national gay talk show, The Swish Edition, and by moonlighting as a social media and new business consultant. When he isn’t glued to his computer screen, or traversing NYC’s gay party scene, he spends his time in Hell’s Kitchen, playing PlayStation and watching The West Wing with his boyfriend, Mash-up Mastermind DJ JoeRedHead. Gulliver Takes Manhattan is his first book.
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Top customer reviews
Gulliver Leverenz has run away from Los Angeles to New York City in order to find a new start. Through a series of wacky and completely unpredictable events, he winds up starting over again and again until he learns that all he needs to be is himself. It's definitely of the "small town boy in the big city" variety, but what keeps the novel from becoming a repeat of that story thread is the fast-paced unpredictability of his adventures and the unique voice of its narrator.
One flaw that is evident in contemporary gay literature is that the main character tends to be a sex-starved maniac or a fervent enemy of promiscuity. Narrator Gully certainly embodies and experiences sex and debauchery with sass, claws, and flair. He also lies, cheats, and mooches off of friends to get what he wants. While this may render him unlikeable, he is never detestable, and his quirks and flaws add dimension and originality to his character. He also has a goal throughout--just to survive in NYC so he won't have to return home. I could go on analyzing the darker aspects of his character and how they reflect the story, but this isn't a dissection: just a review.
The supporting characters each provide quirkiness and entertainment. Other than the hetero-acting Todd and Gully's over-paranoid mother, there admittedly isn't much beyond them, but their entertainment value far eclipses any lack of character development (And if there is anyone who insists on character development for these supporting characters, author Zirilli has written a series of short stories focusing on these characters).
For the most part, the writing is zippy, witty and rapid. Unfortunately, the last twenty pages dissolve into cloying sentimentality. While these were clearly meant to show Gully sobering from his misadventures, they grind the heretofore quick pacing to a halt. Zirilli inserts cloyingly sentimental paragraphs dedicated to musing about the unpredictability of New York City. From reading the story, the reader is ALREADY acquainted with how ridiculous NYC can be. It doesn't need to be repeated. Fortunately, a last minute plot twist keeps this section from bogging down the rest of the story.
This book won't reveal any deep meaning of life. It is an unabashedly fabulous, and superbly entertaining gay beach read. As a bisexual male, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this sinful world of sex, debauchery, and unpredictability. I'd be interested to hear what an open minded heterosexual would think of the book--would they be put off by the gay overtones, or look past them and admire the rapid-fire dialogue, relentlessly entertaining characters, and lightening speed plotting of the story?
Why? Because the author does one thing I look for in a good protagonist. He makes him human, and by human, I mean flawed.
Gulliver, through a series of poor choices and misadventures, becomes someone you find yourself rooting for. He is extremely likable, but finds himself in the same predicament that befalls quite a few twenty somethings: he more often than not thinks with the wrong head, which leads to major conflict in almost all areas of his life. I couldn't put this novel down because I had to know how he was going to get himself out of the messes he made!
With excellent character development, intriguing locales and interesting plot developments that run the gamut from frustrating, funny, heartbreaking and sexy, Gulliver Takes Manhattan is a thoroughly entertaining journey of a thoroughly entertaining guy trying to make a life for himself, anyway he can. I was so eager to find out how it would end only to be left wanting more!
Told by someone else, Gully's journey would probably not win any awards for originality. Gully feels cheated and deceived by his boyfriend in LA and takes off to New York to start a new life free of all the encumbrances imposed by family and friends in LA. Once in NY he does a fair amount of cheating and deceiving of his own, hurting the people who have been most supportive and consequently causing very dramatic twists and turns in his nonstop, frenetic life. Gully inflicts pain through deceit and knee-jerk emotional outbursts, which in turn produces painful retaliation ... apparently more readily foreseen by the reader than by the hapless Gully. Forgiveness seems to abound, however, from most quarters except, somewhat ironically, from Gully himself when it comes to his old boyfriend back in LA. It takes a very good author to make a formulaic plot into a great story. Justin Luke Zirilli manages it and makes it seem effortless.
I find it hard to believe I was ever young enough to have had the energy to live the life these guys do. Also can't believe all the drinking, smoking and sleepless nights will do much to extend the shelf-life of all the sculpted, chiseled, tanned, plucked, muscled, coiffed bodies that populate the story.
An excellent, funny, sad, exciting, exasperating read. I eagerly look forward to Gulliver-sequels, at least up to the point when he and his crew discover cellulite, stretch-marks and the profound loneliness that seems sadly inevitable.
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