Forge, Nov 9 2010, $22.99
In 1941 in Manhattan, Joey El Bueno is a seventh grader at St. Stephen’s School. He cherishes comic books and movie while somehow safely eludes the nuns and bullies who run the school with iron fists. Joey meets new student nutty Jane Bent as both relish the movie Gunga Din. He realizes he appreciates people with a touch of lunacy as a super attractive trait; Joey especially enjoys her mangling metaphors of what apparently is history and what confusingly seems to have not yet happened.
One day after a movie, Jane vanishes. Joey is confused by her vanishing, but more bewildered by everyone at school looking at him like he is Crazy because no one else will confess they met or even saw Jane. He begins to wonder if they are right; as time passes with no clues to prove she lived or what happened to Jane; if he is not insane than Joey turns to his comic books for solutions as there the supernatural and paranormal are the normal.
This is an intriguing look at 1941 New York City though the eyes of a tweener who may be crazy. Ironically, the elongated sentences imply that Joey is crazy or that Jane is a strange essence; however those same significant seemingly endless sentences are difficult to follow requiring at times re-reading. With a nod to Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire though the novel occurs two decades earlier than the song, fans will enjoy this offbeat character study of a person who may be crazy, but then again who is not at least just a little bit insane.