In 1978 Newell leaves his hometown of Pastel, Alabama
for New Orleans where he wanders the streets until he stops
at a store intriguingly named Hendeman's Rare and Used to
learn what they sell and to borrow a phone book. Newell
mentions the YMCA and the woman, as handsome as a man,
Louise Kimbro likes his look and offers him a room, which
he takes. Broke, Newell obtains a busboy job at the nearby
gay restaurant, which he loses when he rejects the
manager's advances. His appearance enables him to score a
new job at an adult bookstore.
Newell explores the city, begins to meet other males
and hooks up with his boss who introduces him to the drug
scene. Eventually his baby face and naive demeanor become
the target of a nasty gay person who plans to teach Newell
the "finer" things in life.
BOULEVARD is an insightful look at the gay scene in New
Orleans through the eyes of the lead character and the cast
that supports his urbanization. The story line is
insightful and interesting and worth the read for those who
want a different type of character study. However, the
problem with this powerful relationship drama resides with
Newell, whose ability to attain what he needs instantly
takes away from the depth of observing an ingenuous
newcomer struggling to adapt to a "foreign" lifestyle. Jim
Grimsley's tale is actually carried by the supporting ensemble.
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted March 29, 2002
Newell never really belonged in Pastel, Alabama. Ready for
a change, he buys a one-way ticket to New Orleans. The year
is 1978 and the rambunctious city beckons with its famous
promise of bright lights, excitement, and men everywhere.
Newell makes his way, finding a job in a pornographic
bookstore and renting a room in the French Quarter. His good
nature, good looks, and a daring stunt in a popular bar make
him a quick favorite of the town. Soon he has friends. Some
are harmless, like Henry, a pudgy sidekick who's a frequent
denizen of the porn shop's movie booths. Others prove more
dangerous, like party-boy Mark, Newell's first beau, who has
a penchant for recreational drugs. Finally, Newell
encounters the volatile Jack, who shows Newell the blackest
heart of the city.
BOULEVARD, Jim Grimsley's fifth novel, reminds us that
Grimsley is what Publishers Weekly calls "an accomplished
stylist and a complex moralist." He takes one character's
dream and reveals what can happen when dreams are fulfilled.