Genre: Memoir; Autobiography; LGBTQ+
Too edged-out for the citizens of little Corvallis, Oregon, Evan Knapp writes a note to change his life. “I won’t be home for dinner.” And he is gone, teenager, aspiring dancer and now runaway. He is bound for the ballet world of Portland with $15 dollars, nowhere to sleep and a support system of exactly him. On the fringes of Portland society, he finds a grungy flop house and seeks out the studios where he can practice his art. By day and evening, a prodigy dance student and lauded performer, by midnight a careening partaker of Portland’s deep underground scene, Evan flings himself head-first toward ballet luminescence or back alley extinction. Peopled with mods and Wave-os, prostitutes and punks, the beautiful broken and happy, squatting bohemians, Evan negotiates roiling seas of counter-culture culture and mainstream art world success. A career expanding and a psyche imploding, he stalks his missing pieces with grace and fury. Told with bare-naked truth and startling humor unique, Evan Knapp’s real-life descent into the darkest corners of the 1980s resounds far beyond the last page. *A short-form bildungsroman memoir. LGBTQIA author, a few explicit scenes.
Though I feel there is a point in the way the story ended (a comment on the continuous movement/struggle of life maybe?), its ending was my only complaint. Not because it was bad, but because I felt like there was so much more to be told. That being said, the author has packed a LOT into this little story.
It is a unique tale of a young man’s transition into adulthood that becomes mesmerizing upon knowing it’s a memoir. I would have otherwise assumed it was simply clever circumstances concocted by a creative writer. I found myself relating to Evan on several levels. Namely his relationship with his parents which I think is something many of us can relate to. They aren’t awful people, but some of the things they do, including the way they seemed mostly unprepared for parenthood, had ill effects on their son.
As a student desperately trying to maintain his grades, his job, and not succumb to the cruel bullies around him, Evan is determined to make it as his own person, as a ballet dancer. Even as he comes into adulthood where he struggles with homelessness, poverty, and substance use, that determination still drives him. Alongside this, he maintains a longing to be a good son to parents whose responses toward him nurtures toxic feelings.
Though the story is largely a narrative (the character telling us what happened), the author was able to keep my attention by intermittent dialogue and acting out memories of interest. Would definitely love to read a follow up to this story or even a full length novel that details more of what Even went through.
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~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden
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