Strait Jacket and Tie
Sixteen-year-old Bert Rosenbaum is living in the Bronx with his family when his brother, Philip, has his first psychotic breakdown. Philip communicates with extraterrestrials through radio stations only he can hear, discovers a homosexual plot to control the world, and burns Bert's cherished Dylan albums to protect him from evil subliminal messages. Haunted by the shadow of his brother's madness, Bert graduates from college, lands a job in the Department of Sewers, and settles into a small, dingy Manhattan apartment.
Confused by his simultaneous attraction to a male coworker and a married woman, stuck in a job that bores him, and surrounded by an odd assortment of neighbors whose troubled lives affect his own, Bert becomes convinced he is following in his brother's footsteps. When three space aliens arrive, Bert's fears seem to be realized. At first menacing, though eventually claiming his friendship, the aliens provide a hilarious spoof on contemporary American culture. Yet whether they are real or imagined, through them Bert becomes ready to take control of his life, come to terms with his sexual identity, and embark upon his first serious relationship.
In this poignant yet comic tour de force, Eugene Stein creates a phantasmagoric Manhattan, a city where craziness is manifested everywhere, and where alienation displaces family and community. Straitjacket & Tie is the bold and memorable introduction of Eugene Stein's expansive talents as a novelist.
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