A provocative, globe-trotting, time-shifting novel about the seductions of — and resistance to — toxic masculinity.
Frank Baltimore is a bit of a loser, struggling by as a carpenter and handyman in rural New England when he gets his big break, building a mansion in the executive suburbs of Hartford. One of his workers is a charismatic eighteen-year-old kid from Liverpool, Dmitry, in the US in the summer before university. Dmitry is a charming sociopath, who develops a fascination with his autodidactic philosopher boss, perhaps thinking that, if he could figure out what made Frank tick, he could be less of a pig. Dmitry heads to Asia and makes a neo-imperialist fortune, with a trail of corpses in his wake. When Dmitry’s office building in Taipei explodes in an enormous fireball, Frank heads to Asia, falls in love with Dmitry’s wife, and things go from bad to worse.
Combining the best elements of literary thriller, noir and political satire, Born Slippy is a darkly comic and honest meditation on modern life under global capitalism.
Born Slippy is the type of novel that you cannot put down – it is full of anguish, heart break, selfishness, suspense and so much more.
First we have Frank, a man with a kind heart but someone that you just want to shake. He trusts those around him, most of the time a little too much. He is awful at standing up for himself, instead he always accepts less than what he truly deserves. At times, he appears envious of others and it makes you wonder if that is why he accepts bad relationships, bad friendships and allows others to use him. Dmitry is hard to put into words – he is manipulative, selfish and while appears to be charming, he is an awful person. He makes Frank believe he is his friend but you want to shake Frank for believing him.
The book starts off with an explosion a Dmitry’s office building where he is presumed dead and then we take a journey back in time to see how their relationship developed over the years and uncover quite a plot around money laundering and more. We see how Dmitry evolves from being a young man who wants to make millions to quite the con artist, with hisa many schemes over the years adding up. We watch as Frank unknowingly (or perhaps he knows but prefers to keep his blinders up) participates in these illegal acts. Frank seems to be constantly grasping for something that he cannot reach – whether it be love, work or respect. While my heart was sore for him at the end of the novel, he played a large part in his demise.
This is a well written novel, that starts off a bit on the slow side but builds an intricate plot that you will not want to stop reading. You find yourself shocked, angered, intrigued throughout the book – and constantly on the edge of your seat as you can never quite guess what Dmitry has up his sleeve or how low he may go. Born Slippy is a definite must read novel.
You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.
About the Author
Tom Lutz is the author of, amongst others, And the Monkey Learned Nothing, Drinking Mare’s Milk on the Roof of the World and Crying, which have been translated into a dozen languages, and several of which have been named New York Times Notable Books. His Doing Nothing won the American Book Award. He is the founding editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books. This is his first novel.
Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.