Homosexuality, family disintegration, interracial sexual awakening, the civil rights movement, and the mysterious Clay Bertrand all come together in a sweeping new novel, I Lost It At The Beginning, by Donald H. Carpenter, the author of Dueling Voices (1993). 12-year old Michael, in many ways a modern-day Huckleberry Finn, tells the story of his life in the year 1966 in an uncharacteristically blunt yet gentle way. His ambivalent feelings toward his father are in stark contrast with his cold dislike of his mother. His outlook toward his closest friend James is of a dual nature: a muted hero-worship counterbalanced by a boiling hatred deep within. His infatuation with Josephine, the family’s seductive but forward-looking maid, must be kept hidden from everyone around him, but it is arguably one of the most important events of his life to date. What is Michael’s father’s relationship with Mr. Bertrand, the tall polished white-haired man from New Orleans? And what exactly are his mother’s feelings towards James, and vice versa? What will happen when the civil rights advocates march through town? And how far will Josephine lead Michael on? In some ways a microcosm of the 60’s, in some ways a journal of painful adolescent psychic growth, I Lost It At The Beginning is a somber, wide-eyed journey, the likes of which have never exactly been seen before.
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