On Borchardt Street ... the trees on either side branched up and met in a thicket of green and scarlet, and the light that came in through to the street and sidewalk below was dappled -- at midday it was like walking through confetti. The flowering bushes that spread out along the fences and sent purple and yellow vines up along the clapboard walls contributed all the more to the festive effect. Small birds darted in and out among the blossoms and white butterflies hovered over the small vegetable patches that crept around from side gardens, thrust themselves up next to the gate.
(from Life Drawing by Michael Grumley)
"Grumley died of AIDS in 1988, leaving behind this wistful, if not thoroughly conceived coming-of- age novel. The story, which follows a wide-eyed young man named Mickey as he grows up in and leaves Lillienthal, Iowa, has the sepia-toned cast of a memoir. There's an old-fashioned grace to Grumley's prose even when he's describing something as ordinary as Mickey's days as a golf caddy: ''The summer of West Side Story we sang 'Tonight' and 'Maria' at the top of our lungs along the club's fairways at dusk, startling the groundskeepers and the starlings.'' During high school, Mickey rides down the Mississippi on a barge and falls for a black card shark named James. It's not the most original plot in the world, but Grumley's description of their subsequent life in New Orleans is funny, evocative, and romantic ..."
(Posted:10/11/91 -- Entertainment Weekly)