It’s April in SoHo, and Curtis Birnbaum, thirty-three-year-old rock-star wannabe out for a stroll, spies gangly, gorgeous Camilla—soon to be his obsession, his songwriting muse, and the reason he does in fact need a record contract (and some health ...
some health insurance). Their first meeting, like each episode in this year 2000 picaresque love story, is an exquisitely observed social and private moment: Camilla’s dachshund Phillip humps Curtis’s leg while Camilla writes her AOL address backward on Curtis’s forehead. As their tender and tentative relationship runs its course—-through witty e-mail questionnaires, marathon conversations in bed, and parental bonding over the winsome Phillip—-Fowler captures young love with comic and poignant precision.
Curtis, a hero as frank and self-critical as he is romantic, is cast into outer darkness by an unexpected breakup with Camilla. As he tries to figure out what went wrong (why did her cool blue eyes always signal a distracted aloofness?), he embarks on a series of hilarious East Village misadventures, from a nude modeling stint to a regrettable steamroom incident at CRUNCH gym to a destination he has only dreamed of: the top floor of Worldwide Plaza, where the record moguls preside.
Curtis and Camilla are children of the 1970s, products of broken homes who are searching for something meaningful in a world of downloading and dealmaking, hanging chads and recovering junkies. With their story, Nick Fowler, in passionate, wide-open prose that is blissfully entertaining throughout, tells us a thing or two about first love, heartbreak, and learning to leave the pain of youth behind.