My copy of Bruce Bentzman’s Selected Suburban Soliloquies has now arrived, and a very handsome volume it is, too.
I don’t know whether I’m the ideal person to be reviewing this book, or the least appropriate, since I am the person who commissioned Bruce to write these essays for Snakeskin over a dozen or so years. Reading through the volume has for me been like attending a very convivial reunion. Here’s someone I’ve known for ages! He’s looking fine. And here’s someone I’d actually quite forgotten. Good to meet you again.
These are the essays that Bruce wrote while he lived in Levittown, Pennsylvania.
William Jaird Levitt was building the American dream on the principles of mass production, erecting individual homes, each on their allotted piece of real estate. [….] In the end there was a sea of houses. Out of the city spilled a tide of middle-class humanity to make them into homes.
Bruce was by no means the typical inhabitant of Levittown. He and Ms Keogh (whom readers will soon come know as his ‘more significant other’) are considerably less houseproud than many of their neighbours:
Home maintenance is not our forte. We have neglected our sprawling, fifty-year-old, three-bedroom house. When we come home from our paying jobs, we are too tired to clean and repair. We just want to pursue happiness, which is not derived from raking leaves, or dusting row after row of books, or removing the clutter in order to vacuum a great expanse of wall-to-wall carpeting. Major work involving carpentry, wiring, or plumbing, are nemesis because of my ineptitude. Even if by chance we have the energy when we arrive home, we’re eager to pursue our not-paying-so-well second careers as artists. Ms Keogh paints. I write.
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