shrug, i have tried to write this review a couple of times now, but this book kinda rolled right offa me like a drunken mistake. once i dispensed with being outraged by inaccuracies (and they were totally minor, but when we’re talking byron, i’m paying attention, and when you only list one byron bio in your references, i’m gonna squinty-eye you) let’s get one thing straight. byron was never rich. it is misleading to characterize him as a bad boy of privilege—some tucker max prototype. i, too, can borrow a ton of money and spend it but that doesn’t make me rich, it just makes me irresponsible. and byron was nothing if not irresponsible. he was a rock star, yes, but a rock star always on the verge of exploding into a supernova situation. there was never any money. he inherited his daddy’s debts along with that useless title and when he did start living the byron awwww yeeeeaahhh lifestyle, it was mostly on borrowed dimes and the kindness of women. when he did the whole exile from england thing, yes it was about the incest and sodomy rap, but also less dramatically, for intense debt.
school is over—sorry for the digression.
but his constant classification of byron as wealthy and careless made me crazy. part of what makes byron great is the shambles of his early life with his diabolical mother (has anyone written a book about her??) and his later ability to cadge the cash from his groupies and other people who should have known better. he was not someone born to wealth and idleness, even though poets seem to have that rep.
the book has an interesting premise—to fill in some of the gaps in byron’s life—in this case, the few years after his time spent at a boarding school for boys during which he had an intense relationship with a fellow student.
although this takes place in modern times, with a troubled boy haunted by his own past and suddenly byron’s as well, it still has a historical tone to it, which is nice. it is a fun speculative exercise, but it just never gripped me as much as i was hoping it would. there are some strong moments and some good description, but it never picked up enough speed to make me want to devote myself to it.
i want to like this writer—i think that i could really use a dose of good literary horror (like Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism). i like the idea of the capital-r romantic ghost story, and his first book was okay, too, but for some reason, there is this obstacle between us. there is this “almost there” feeling that is so frustrating, you know what i mean? ladies?
okay, i feel like that is sufficient for a book review. final verdict: good, but not great.
oh, and not one bit like secret history. can’t publishers pick another book to compare books to?