The Boys and Men of Auckland’s Mickey Rooney Gang.
There is so much ‘knowingness’ in this exceptional novel, a knowingness bred of the author’s deep wisdom, a common-sense knowingness of the surety of relationships and entanglements. To say the characters are finely drawn is an understatement, for, from page one, each character is etched into the reader’s consciousness; they become persons we knew growing up, or persons we know now, with hindsight helping form the connexions. Crudely put, we fall in love with Bolton’s characters, who take us on a well-constructed romp through the sixties and seventies of the twentieth century.
My baby-boomer birth date of 1950 meant a catch-up of a few years to join these characters, but everything mentioned in this superbly researched book is strong in my memories of the time, vivid and meaningful. Bolton doesn’t put a foot wrong in his narrative, I am there with him, all the way, and anyone growing up in working class/middle class sixties/seventies New Zealand will also be with the author. The ease of the everyday vernacular, and laid-back syntax instantly draws the reader into the narrative, also into trusting the writer. There are no off-putting gaps in the narrative, or in the way Bolton stitches together the nine separate main characters, their families, friends and significant relationships. To bring together all these varied stories into one cogent and powerful novel is nothing short of magical.
Robert Philip Bolton is a consummate, and prolific, storyteller. In all his books, he creates interesting characters, hones them to perfection, then lets them tell their stories, just like a brilliant symphonic conductor can set parameters for the orchestra, then get out of the way of the musicians who are then left free to create their own realities. Wonderful stuff!
I enjoyed every word of The Boys and Men of Auckland’s Mickey Rooney Gang.
In a working-class suburb of Auckland, New Zealand, in 1957, eight mildly rebellious schoolboys, inevitably obsessed with sex, were attracted to the arrogant and thoroughly delinquent little Mickey Rooney whose fantastic dreams of Hollywood fame were to be his downfall.
It wasn’t a real gang, and it didn’t last long. It disintegrated after an obscene practical joke played by Mickey on the gang’s most vulnerable member.
The book then follows the boys into manhood. Nine men. Nine lives involving love and romance, sadness and joy, success and failure, illness and death, drugs and vice, violence and crime, and murder.
Nine men with nothing in common but the teenage year they wasted in Mickey Rooney’s gang.
The Boys and Men of Auckland’s Mickey Rooney Gang
It’s like nothing I’ve written before.
But beware. As one reader put it: ‘It’s not for the faint-hearted’.
‘Bolton’s new book lifts the dark lid off Auckland’s past in a brilliant, clever read. Loved it.’