Verdict: A complex portrait of an epic romance between two complicated people, THE MOON-GLO MIASMA is worth the early slog to get to the heart-wrenching climax.
Coop Berkoff has returned to his hometown for his 45th high school reunion, which stirs up a swirling mass of reminiscence. The narrative returns to his earliest childhood memories and then proceeds chronologically and in great detail through his formative years. Coop grew up in a small town and there are many 1950’s and 1960’s period details that anchor his growing up. The reader learns of Coop’s precociousness, his troubled home life, his favorite music, his sporty adolescence, and his football injuries. It’s an older style of writing—about one ordinary life, with no plot as anchor except time’s march forward—that is rarely seen in contemporary fiction. While reading the slow unspooling of minutiae about Coop’s childhood, I remembered why. “[Coop’s father] or one of the other railroad men would often give Coop a nickel with which to buy a drink. A Brownie was Coop’s favorite. He had a great fondness for chocolate milk, and whatever the chemistry of this concoction, it was close enough.”
While tedious, all of these details and subtle characteristics are constructed in the beginning in order to build up to the main action: Coop’s high school romance with Cynthia, a passionate and powerful affair that would have lasting repercussions on the couple. Coop and Cynthia are infatuated with each other, but their personalities clash time and again in dramatic, sometimes dangerous ways. To explain the title, The Moon-Glo Drive-In is where Coop loses his virginity to Cynthia, and the “Miasma” is a cloud of treacherous thoughts that follow him as he is swept deeper into a mental illness. The romance is dramatic, complicated, and shocking, and kept me turning pages and switching allegiances until the end. The writer deftly portrays the power of love and the unique situation of each romance, while grounding his most heartbreaking sections in love’s universal appeal in fiction. This reader was certainly moved by the return to the reunion in the final pages.
A complex portrait of an epic romance between two complicated people, THE MOON-GLO MIASMA is worth the early slog to get to the heart-wrenching climax.
~Danielle Bukowski for Indie Reader