"GENTLE AND FUNNY...From the first chapter...to the very touching ending, The Genius Of Desire is a good story worth telling."
--San Francisco Chronicle
Michael Bellman is not your average little boy. He speaks to plates, banisters, and other household objects (preferring them to people). He frequently confesses to sins he never committed (like adultery). And he's hopelessly drawn to the romantic notion of a secret, double life.
Michael spends summers in Monsalvat, Michigan, coming of age in a loving tangle of great aunts, great uncles, cousins once-removed (but ever-present), and one tough-looking, silently scary grandmother. The Kaisers are a wild, highly eccentric bunch: Great Uncle Jimmy speaks to his dead wife during meals and proudly proclaims himself the Fattest Man in the World; Cousin Anne torments and taunts Michael beyond endurance; reckless Cousin Tommy secretly smokes cigars and can't wait to "kick butt in 'Nam"--and Michael watches every magical move he makes.
A few years and one driver's license later, as family alliances change and long-silent desires surface, Michael begins to understand his attraction to the double life because he's living one--at roadside rest stops, in library washrooms and public parks. Coming out is the first step, coming to terms is the next....
"[A] DEEPLY FELT FIRST NOVEL of childhood and adolescence...by a cool and philosophical young writer."
"WONDERFULLY INTELLIGENT...An auspicious debut: wise, funny, and courageous."
--Charles Baxter, Author of Shadow Play