STORY STATEMENT: As Wesley leaves home for college, he longs to shed any likeness to his abusive, deadbeat stepfather and become a successful, legitimate man — if someone could just show him how to do it.
ANTAGONIST: Gianni DeCrescenzo was a former lieutenant in a Kansas City crime family who was rewarded with a little tract of land in a small town in Southeast Kansas for being a good soldier and protecting his boss. He took that small town and turned it into his turf. To those on the outside, Uncle Gee is an entrepreneurial family man and County Commissioner who seeks the flourishing of his town and its economy. To those on the inside, he’s an insecure and violent dictator — dangerously jealous of his brother — who uses family to justify making money and expanding his empire by any means necessary. When Uncle Gee meets Wesley, he sees an affable, cunning kid in need of money who can take on the low-level tasks of his lazy nephew, who just wants to get drunk with his fraternity brothers. Wesley thinks Uncle Gee is a legitimate businessman who will teach him how to be dignified and get rich — the masculine role model he’s always longed for. He learns, instead, that Uncle Gee may have been involved in a heinous crime against his own flesh and blood, which he purports to love so much.
A Guy Like You
The New Guy
My novel is adult Bildungsroman fiction set in 1978 with elements of mystery.
MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH – Michael Chabon
My novel and MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH are both set in the past, following college-aged boys as they strive to define and fulfill what it is to be a man. The novels explore themes of masculinity and generational trauma against the backdrop of organized crime. Similar to Chabon’s work, my novel also seeks to blend literary prose with commercial plot.
THE SECRET HISTORY – Donna Tartt
Like Tartt’s, my novel is set in the past, written in first person, and follows an outsider in his first year of college as he tries to find his place, keep up his grades, and solve a mystery. Where THE SECRET HISTORY’s protagonist is trying to solve a murder, my novel’s protagonist is trying to uncover who’s threatening his boss — and who his boss truly is. The prose is of a similar tone.
LOGLINE: When a poor, fatherless college student learns his dignified new boss may be embedded in the mob, he struggles to unearth his boss’s bloody past while fighting to keep his job, decide what kind of man he wants to be, and make it out alive.
INNER CONFLICT: Wesley is looking for someone to teach him how to be a man. He knows he doesn’t want to be like his stepdad — a gambling, abusive drunk — but his stepdad was the only role model he’d ever had. Wesley’s high school jobs were hustling poker for cash and smuggling liquor over state lines to sell to upperclassmen. He sees college as an opportunity to straighten up and put himself on a gentleman’s trajectory toward love, riches, stability — and the fine brothers of Chi Gamma Alpha are to be his guide. But when he’s rejected from Chi Gamma and too broke to pay tuition, Wesley falls into a job with Gianni DeCrescenzo. Wesley sees Uncle Gee as the father he’s always wanted, but soon realizes his mentor and boss is not the upstanding businessman he presents himself to be. Wesley is crushed and must struggle to prove to himself that he’s meant for more than a life in the underworld. Can he decide for himself what is good? Can he make himself into a man he’s never seen modeled?
SECONDARY CONFLICT: Little Gee – Gianni’s loose cannon of a nephew — has hated Wesley since the moment Wes nearly hit him with his car on Orientation Day. Little Gee is the president of Chi Gamma Alpha and makes sure Wesley doesn’t get a bid to join the fraternity even though Wesley saves his life when he gets too drunk and nearly drowns at a rush event. Uncle Gee invites Wesley over to dinner to thank him for saving his nephew. Uncle Gee is charmed by Wesley, which makes Little Gee — who can’t seem to earn his uncle’s affection — hate Wesley even more, not to mention the budding romance between Wesley and Little Gee’s mysterious sister, Cecilia. Wesley soon begins to suspect that Little Gee is behind some of the threats to Uncle Gee — and more dangerous than anyone could have possibly guessed.
SETTING: 1978 Frontenac, Kansas: A tiny hamlet outside the college town of Pittsburg, Kansas, populated with 1st and 2ndgeneration Americans who immigrated from Europe in the early 20th century to work in the coal mines. The area has a strong European influence and operates more on a padrone system than a typical civic framework. The town is rumored to have been an outpost for the mob to send their low- and mid-level members into retirement as a reward for their service.
1978 Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas: A D-II school that brings in students from all over the state. It’s home to a thriving Panhellenic community, whose chapters run the campus and compete against each other for preeminence.