by david press
I should start right off by saying that Tim Brearton is one of my closest friends. I wouldn’t be a particularly good critic if I didn’t say that I’ve been his friend going on ten years now, and now that you’ve read that you probably think this review isn’t meritorious. That’s okay; I’m going to take it in another direction. This essay is better thought of as an introduction to him, and to his writing. I’m a big believer in knowing a writer’s style is also knowing them personally, and Tim is a writer I’ve known for a long time.
I met him when I was a tender 20 years-old reporting for duty as the Lake Placid Film Forum’s intern. He was head of the Volunteer Department, and was (still is) someone who wouldn’t be satisfied if he wasn’t running around doing a million things at once. That’s not to say he has no focus, but he likes being busy and is especially busy in his head. Tim may be the greatest deliberator I know, because what may take you and I two minutes to analyze the possibilities of, Tim has thought of every angle you and I could think of in half a minute. That is easily the best personality trait of his that comes through in his protaganist, Jack Aiello, in this book you have in your hands. It allows you, the reader, to get inside his character’s head, and that for me is a writer’s number one objective; to make you feel like you’re a part of that character’s psyche.
I became Tim’s right hand man that year at the Film Forum. Running the mail, making copies, hanging fliers, and making sure all the parties had the appropriate amount of booze. Things that interns do. Since then I’ve been along Tim’s journey from Burlington, Vermont, to when he quit drinking, to when he started writing full time shortly after his son’s birth. Jude Russell Brearton, Tim’s son, is easily the greatest work of art Tim will ever do.
So, I ask you to take part in Tim’s art with this exceptionally personal novel about a Brooklyn strong-arm named Jack Aiello and his journey to rehabilitation. Rehabilitation from fighting, from drinking, and from the women he’s lost. This is Tim’s personal statement on issues such as substance abuse, single-parenthood, and gene manipulation, wrapped in the cover of a private eye story. Aiello transforms from amateur private dick to someone not fighting for a cause, like the Naturalists he encounters, or fighting for a better world like the gene manipulators of the Utopia Corporation, but fighting for his family.
You see, in this world, everyone is fighting for something. Whether you are President Obama fighting for health care, or fighting for gay rights, very few books are about fighting to get better for your child, and generally those books become classics. (See Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections.) And that’s why this book is a classic not just for tackling hot-button issues, but personal issues that everyone struggles with. In the end it’s about children, and knowing Tim and seeing his son Jude grow up, I can’t help but smile knowing that this book, this work of art on Tim’s part, is for his greatest work of art—his son Jude. It’s a present from father to son.
So, go on, enjoy. You’ll be rehabilitated for it.
New York City
Saturday, October 10, 2009