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Good Times, Bad Times

von James Kirkwood

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1804119,804 (4.04)3
Reminiscent of "Catcher in the Rye," this is the story of a youth growing up in a prep school with a deranged headmaster.
Kürzlich hinzugefügt vonKvittering, RainbowCenter, LambertHouse, dale01, Sistah_Eve, STLreader
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Eighteen year old Peter Kilburn has been arrested for the murder of his head teacher, Mr Hoyt, and he now starts to recount the events that led up to this predicament in a statement addressed to his defending attorney, which is Good Times Bad Times.

Peter, son of a one time moderately successful Hollywood actor living in California, finds himself courtesy of the benevolence of one of his father's cronies enrolled at Gilford Academy, once a respectable minor New England school but now on the decline. He is looking forward to making new friends, and particularly to finding that one special friend; he likes to be able to relate to one close individual. Things do not look too good until a new boy arrives, the twenty year Jordan. Immediately they connect and soon develop a remarkable close and trusting friendship. Jordan is the youngest son of a wealthy New Orleans family, but if ill health has held him back in several ways it has also made him strongly individual.

Peter's relationship with his headmaster is rather different. After a bad start he eventually wins favour as Hoyt selects him for a reading from Hamlet in a school production. But Hoyt is unpredictable and unbalanced, and his moods swings from friendly to aggressive. He becomes infatuated with Peter, and jealous of his friendship with Jordan, both of which lead to a number of problems, and the tragic outcome mentioned above.

James Kirkwood masterfully conveys the spirit of youth. Both Peter and Jordan come across as likeable and honest characters while their fellow students are an odd assortment of misfits, Hoyt is clearly deranged, and there are plenty more larger than life characters. It all adds up to a funny, at times hilarious, often shocking, but above all very moving story; beautifully written it is to be highly recommended. ( )
  presto | Apr 23, 2012 |
Told as a frame story with the protagonist recalling the events from his jail cell, this work is a nicely paced prep school novel. The main characters are never one-dimensional (although plenty of the other students are). A balanced picture of the homosexual characters as well, since the gay/bi characters are not all in the 'villianous' or 'idealized' camp. The humor is wry and ironic, the tension palpable and well written.
  wademlee | Jan 23, 2009 |
I remember being tremendously moved by this novel, so much that I looked for more works by James Kirkwood and acquired and read them. The story is told in the form of a letter from Peter Kilburn who is in jail for the murder of his school headmaster. This, however, is not a typical tale of murder and I found it unique in its deep melancholy and sadness of the memory shared in its pages, unlike Kirkwood's lighter, more humorous work. Good Times / Bad Times presents two young men at a New England prep school who are threatened when the disturbed headmaster develops a homoerotic fixation on Peter. His friend Jordan is the novel's voice of wisdom; he tells Peter that what makes the headmaster's attraction so dangerous is the fact that he cannot acknowledge it.

The story is one of friendship that only can be experienced by youth of a certain age, but even that aspect is unique in this telling and that with all the unsureness of young men coming of age, still acting and thinking like boys, makes it more compelling. The novel is suffused with homoeroticism, but homosexuality is nervously (and unconvincingly) disavowed by the narrator, who says at one point, "We threw our arms around one another and we kissed. It was a real kiss, and no matter what anybody might think, a perfectly right and fitting expression of our friendship for that time and place and for us."
The questions of perception and distance between the boys and the headmaster also weigh heavily in the story which is not without lighter moments. However, the tension that pervades the work and the seriousness of the feelings that are not always capable of being expressed overcome these lighter moments. Ultimately it is the adept handling of themes of friendship in a school setting and coming-of-age that stay with your memory and made this book special for me. ( )
2 abstimmen jwhenderson | Jul 5, 2007 |
The writing style of this books reminds me of Catcher in The Rye.
  amberella | Oct 7, 2005 |
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Reminiscent of "Catcher in the Rye," this is the story of a youth growing up in a prep school with a deranged headmaster.

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