Mostly, the book is about Michael.
That is not to its detriment. He is truly an engrossing subject. Michael is a series of contradictions. He’s a gentle soul who is not above kicking a sick cat. He observes the minutiae of life through the eyes of a poet, but is often oblivious to what is happening around him. He is fiercely loyal to his own sense of self, to the point of repression, but will try on opinions haphazardly as though he were Nietzsche’s fisherman. This is a man who thinks of Larry McMurtry as a messiah, despite never reading Lonesome Dove.
Michael is a man of big dreams but a criminal lack of ambition, the last journeyman beatnik, or perhaps just from Mars. I can‘t help but feel that his view of the human race comes from an outsider‘s perspective, yet his existential crisis is far from alien. He is a man who is trying to reconcile his attempts at growth with his fear of losing his identity in the process.
Austin Nights is the tale of a man who uses the word “lover” unironically, and makes the world a better place in doing so.
Or at the very least, a more interesting one.
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