TITLE: These Violent Delights
AUTHOR: Micah Nemerever
RELEASE DATE: September 15, 2020
SETTING: Pittsburgh 1970s
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins, Harper Audio
GENRE(S): Historical Fiction, LGBT, Abuse/Mental Health, Thriller
I am so ridiculously thankful to Harper Audio for my gifted ALC of this title.
The Secret History meets Call Me by Your Name in Micah Nemerever’s compulsively readable debut novel—a feverishly taut Hitchcockian story about two college students, each with his own troubled past, whose escalating obsession with one another leads to an act of unspeakable violence.
When Paul and Julian meet as university freshmen in early 1970s Pittsburgh, they are immediately drawn to one another. A talented artist, Paul is sensitive and agonizingly insecure, incomprehensible to his working-class family, and desolate with grief over his father’s recent death.
Paul sees the wealthy, effortlessly charming Julian as his sole intellectual equal—an ally against the conventional world he finds so suffocating. He idolizes his friend for his magnetic confidence. But as charismatic as he can choose to be, Julian is also volatile and capriciously cruel. And admiration isn’t the same as trust.
As their friendship spirals into an all-consuming intimacy, Paul is desperate to protect their precarious bond, even as it becomes clear that pressures from the outside world are nothing compared with the brutality they are capable of inflicting on one another. Separation is out of the question. But as their orbit compresses and their grip on one another tightens, they are drawn to an act of irrevocable violence that will force the young men to confront a shattering truth at the core of their relationship.
Exquisitely plotted, unfolding with a propulsive ferocity, These Violent Delights is a novel of escalating dread and an excavation of the unsettling depths of human desire.
This book hit me like a gut punch and left me gasping for breath. From the very first words I was hooked, wriggling on the line, waiting and watching this book unfold. From the blurb I knew I wanted to read this, but after finishing it, its like I didn’t even know that I actually NEEDED this. This is easily my favorite book of 2020, and on the list of all time favorites for sure!
When Paul and Julian meet as teenagers in the early 70s the immediate pull they feel is intense and all encompassing. While they are intellectual equals, Paul is awkward and insecure to a fault and Julian is wealthy and the kind of charismatic that looks infuriatingly easy. What starts as a friendship quickly blooms into infatuation and ultimately obsession for both of them.
There is this intense self deprecation that Paul hauls along with him like dead weight and it is both a tether and a crutch between the two of them. There is this incredible and sometimes sick push and pull between Paul and Julian, that of which cannot really be summarized, but experienced among the words in these pages. They cause pain (emotional and physical) to one another, cutting so deep sometimes that made me want to sob. But, the one thing that neither of them want is to be apart. They love each other so fiercely that it is almost detrimental but so heart-breakingly beautiful at the same time.
Among these pages, so many things happen. So many quiet moments and simple things, but so many screamed moments as well. Fears of being outed as gay in the 1970s was a big deal. For Paul, being gay and Jewish proves hard for him with his family who would rather sweep it under the rug then acknowledge it or accept it. Julian must endure his controlling, rich parents, a situation that he blindsides Paul with. Paul is also dealing with the aftermath of his cop father’s recent death and how it affects his mother in a way that Paul despises. All of these pressures culminate into needing some sort of release. A perfect crime. Something that will ultimately bring both Paul and Julian closer together. Something incredibly dangerous and after which neither of them will be the same.
I was given the opportunity to receive an advanced audio copy of this book, narrate by the extremely talented Michael Crouch. I like to read and listen to books fast. When reading, I tend to skim and when listening I sometimes get sidetracked and gloss over certain parts, never really caring too much if I miss something here or there. With this book, I found myself rewinding and listening at a slower pace as to not miss a single word. That is how immersed I was in this story. I didn’t want to miss anything. I wanted to be fully involved in this and it left me in complete awe!
One thing I loved about this book with so much desperation was this: Paul and Julian are not typically good people. They do bad things. The obsession they have for one another borders on unhealthy and volatile. Through that though, I still rooted for them. I wanted them to be okay and come out on top. I wanted their twisted sense of love and passion for each other to win out in the end. I. STILL. LOVED. THEM.
This was dark and haunting and so breathtaking. This book needs to be read. I will shout it from the rooftops. I will tell anyone who will listen! READ THIS BOOK!!!