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Tim on Broadway Kindle Edition
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|Length: 318 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Bettencourt understands character creation and in this book he has given us at least two characters in Timothy Benton and Javier Rodriquez who are so memorable that they will likely achieve `Holden Caulfield' status. The book is both hilarious funny, gently touching, and very perceptive in the way the author examines personality development and evolvement. But enough of analysis.
The story revolves around a twenty-something overweight virgin who has problems with job retention and with life in general due to the loss of his loving mother in a car accident for which he holds himself responsible, and the fact that he is a virgin - a gay man who has had only one physical encounter and that involved money. His escape: theater, Broadway musicals, donuts, AGD (America's Got Divas), and a passion for the famous Divas of the day and the past - with especial emphasis on one Carolyn Sohier, `the Greta Garbo of divas'. Tim has friends with whom he commiserates and finally encounters a Venezuelan box boy Javier Rodriguez, a straight hunk with whom he makes friends and gradually and very eventfully comes into a relationship. Javier has financial problems not only due to his family but also toward financing a termination of a pregnancy he caused, borrows money from Tim - a transaction that leads to his moving in and changing Tim's life. So much of the story is bonded to a Bar Harbor, Maine appearance that Carolyn Sohier comes out of retirement to give and how Javier manages tickets, drives the automobile-phobic Tim to see Tim's goddess, and how in the process of all that Tim alters his appearance at the gym and falls in love with Javier who likewise opens his mind and heart to love Tim.
Bettencourt peppers this delightfully entertaining novel with references to inappropriate flatulence (is it ever appropriate?), manscaping, words to the big songs from the big Broadway shows, Tim's self perception as a fat man who no one could possibly find attractive, and other diversions that singalong with the chorus of women friends and employers. But in the core of this comedy is the tenderness of Bettencourt's `passion about humanity and one's desire to make significant change in their lives - how you realize you are and become what you think of yourself.' Or as Bettencourt places this philosophy in the mouth of his created diva Carolyn, consoling Tim about feeling unlovable, `If the problem's with you, then you have the power to change it.'
Yes, this novel has gay characters in it, but it is not a gay novel - no frank physical encounters, a mixed cast of characters, some time spent with sports, etc - it is instead a tale of how we come to perceive ourselves and the power we all have to evolve and change what we don't like into someone we love. This is an exceptionally fine novel by a very gifted young writer! Grady Harp, September 14
The narrator, Tim, is a 28-year-old virgin, convinced that his size-46 waist makes him unlovable. But he doesn't sit around collecting unemployment and wallowing in self-pity; he gives a temp job his best efforts and it turns into a permanent gig.
The main story is his maybe-yes-maybe-no romance with a straight guy, Javier, whom he met at his last job. Or is Javier straight? That's part of the maybe. The "B" plot is Tim's quest for tickets to a reclusive singer's concert on an island in Maine, and for a way to get there since he doesn't drive. (Tim is a devotee of Broadway shows and cabaret singers.) The author does a good job of integrating these two, and of stretching out the uncertainty without overstretching it.
The author's mastery of English composition is quite good, on a par with what we see in print books that had decent editors. There is a little violence, but it's brief and not explicit; ditto the sexual content. The characters are believable, and speak naturally. The one criticism I have is that some things seem to work out a little _too_ neatly. But overall I liked the story, particularly the character development of Tim, the narrator.
I'll watch for more from this author.
(Why 4 stars instead of 5? I wish there was some agreed-upon scale of ratings. To me, 5 stars means "a book that's so good I'll want to read it again next year". This one was good, and I'll read other books from this author, but don't need to re-read this one.)
So, lots of deep emotional exploration, but Tim on Broadway is not heavy-going. It's a very fun read, in fact, with some hysterically funny moments (the Toilet Scene had me laughing out loud, especially), but there are a few kick-you-in-the-back-of-the-knees moments too, like when Tim is judging himself in the bathroom mirror. At that point, I had to stop reading for a few minutes, because I really felt for Tim, and for how down on himself he is, when he's really a fairly successful guy with lots of great qualities.
Javier turned out to be a lot different than I initially anticipated, but I'll leave it at that, as part of the joy of this story is in coming to understand the characters, and whereas Tim is emotionally open from the start of the book, Jav is much deeper and more complex.
The plot's fun – nothing too angsty or tricky to follow. It's just a simple journey, following one of Tim on the trail of one of his big dreams, and watching him grow as a person. The friendship between Tim and Jav blossoms gradually and realistically, and there's enough of a conclusion for the author to either leave it where it is, or treat us to more adventures with Tim (and hopefully Jav) on Broadway, or wherever else life takes them.