Plot/Idea: Petrified of the Light is David Beck's sharp, funny, terrifically honest memoir of being young, gay, drunk and in the arts in NYC. It is also a bittersweet love story between David and his lover of ten years, Luca, a talented fashion designer, and the forces that keep them together as they tear themselves and one another apart.
Prose: David Beck's voice is acerbic and his wit is sharp, and the book is laugh-out-loud funny in spots. It is also an unsparing account of his spiraling into alcoholism and painfully trying, time after time, to get a handhold on sobriety before losing everything he came to New York hoping to find, including the love of his life.
Originality: This may be one of the best memoirs about being young, talented, gay, and risking throwing everything, including love, away that readers will have encountered since Augusten Burroughs' Dry and Magical Thinking, yet it is not derivative in any way. Beck articulates an experience that thousands who've come to New York to hunt fame and success have undergone; his narrative is both totally relatable and uniquely his own.
Character Development/Execution: Fledgling writers are warned by their instructors that "Just because it happened doesn't make it real," but Beck's memoir is real and raw and utterly convincing. Those who have walked New York's streets will recognize their city by sound and sight and smell; those who have lived there for a decade or more, especially those who've been involved in the arts, will recognize the people he describes as friends, neighbors, colleagues and folks they've stood in line with to get tickets to Shakespeare in the Park.
Date Submitted: December 28, 2021