After the untimely death of his father, twenty-three-year-old Frank abandons his comfortable middle-class background, and chooses to live a kind of fringe existence, working as a paramedic on the violent night shifts of a Harlem hospital. Shutting between the lower East Side and Harlem, Frank retrieves the sick and the dead and also photographs ...
After the untimely death of his father, twenty-three-year-old Frank abandons his comfortable middle-class background, and chooses to live a kind of fringe existence, working as a paramedic on the violent night shifts of a Harlem hospital. Shutting between the lower East Side and Harlem, Frank retrieves the sick and the dead and also photographs the misery and suffering he sees on the streets. Frank's actions antagonise his older brother who is a respected surgeon at the same hospital, but who also feels a strong sense of guilt for not being able to stop their father's slow disintegration, despite his medical training. Just as Frank seems set on a dangerous downward spiral of self-destruction, he meets a woman, Emily, who offers him a chance at redemption. Their relationship is by turns both complex and surprising, but it is through this connection that Frank begins to recover his ability to see the beauty of life and considers turning away from the gritty streets of ghetto New York.
Publishers Weekly, 2004-07-12 In this dark, tender debut, Frank Verbeckas is a young paramedic patrolling the mean streets of Manhattan. Frank's real passion, however, is photography; he's constantly snapping pictures of injured and dead bodies while on his rounds. "I don't like healthy people," he tells his brutish partner, Burnett. Though Frank treats his photographs as just a harmless hobby, the obsession runs much deeper. What he's really after is photography's ability to give him "a clarity and precision" that he lacks in real life, where the violence of his job punctuates an ever-present loneliness. His father is dead; his mother's in another state; his surgeon brother treats him with contempt. Frank's only refuge is the homemade darkroom in his apartment, where he spends hours under the "weightless, red glow" of a safelight. His emotional numbness gets him into trouble when he joins up with Burnett and another medic to sell stolen drugs from the hospital. But his relationship with 21-year-old Emily Pascal, a fencer infected with HIV, finally shakes him out of his detachment. The doomed romance is rather sentimental (like a minimalist, edgy Love Story), but Burke's spare prose and sharp eye for the beauty in urban misery makes this a moving tale of lost souls searching for permanence in a chaotic world. Agent, David McCormick. (Sept. 7) Forecast: This short novel packs an emotional punch that could make it a word-of-mouth hit. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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