Bourbon Snow Cones and Falling Veils
Excepting short stories, I've steered clear of fiction for a few years. But when I held it in my hot little hands, the suede-like cover of D. Foy's debut novel, Made to Break, enthralled me. Maybe it was the stark, white sans serif font of the title. Or how that type contrasted with a bokeh-dappled chiaroscuro lounge marquee announcing, “Our lights are off but we are on.” Perhaps it was the pages' rough, feathered edges—in the trade, called a deckle edge—that seduced. Color me grateful for whatever subconscious motivations led me to take a ride with Foy.
On its face Made to Break is the story of a group of close friends—as intimate as a group of self-absorbed addicts can be—who take an ill-advised Christmastime trip to the country. After snorting their way through yuletide, old pals AJ, Basil, Dinky, Lucille and Hickory retreat inside Dinky's family cabin. But before the party can get started, desire and chance call forth an accident. What ensues is tragic, desperate and transformative, and it admirably reflects the essential natures of five friends and one uncommon interloper. But this isn't a horror movie, and there are no monsters lurking in the deep, dark woods … unless you're speaking metaphorically. Foy unabashedly manipulates metaphor and allegory, etching description and dialogue with a deft touch.
Sometimes Foy's prose skirts dangerously close to aubergine, but the sublime, damning language he employs works in concert with first-person POV to normalize phrases like, “It was the mongoloid glee of pots and pans, and marimbas, and accordions, and guitars that wouldn't tune.” Historical and pop culture references—Bauhaus, Hermann Göring, Salman Rushdie, the Donner Party, Deliverance, Nick Cave, KISS, Black Francis, Lil Hardin, La Dolce Vita and Mothra—provide a point of entry for those of us who didn't spend the '90s engaged in MDMA-fueled philosophizing and the pursuit of murdered time. Made to Break encompasses the entire spectrum of the word “sophomoric” in its riveting narrative that's equal parts intellectual pretension, conceit and terminal adolescence. Yet when protagonist AJ describes a chaotic, 24-hour greasy spoon as “the ontology of oneness in a world gone mad,” it somehow makes perfect sense. Here, the scatological and the sacred transcend coexistence, and their communion epitomizes symbiosis. Made to Break's fictive marriage of profanity and divinity gracefully articulates the persistence of attraction.