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Band Fags!by Frank Anthony Polito
Synopses & Reviews
"Ever since I first heard that Lionel Richie and Diana Ross song, 'Endless Love,' all I've wanted is to find The One. Someone to love. Who will love me back."
September, 1982. John Cougar's "Jack and Diane" is on endless radio rotation, and Dallas and Dynasty rule the ratings. Jack Paterno is a straight-A student living in the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park, with his own Atari 5200, a Beta VCR, and everything a seventh-grader could ask for. The only thing he has in common with foul-mouthed Brad Dayton, who lives on the gritty south side near 8 Mile, is that both are in Varsity Band. Or maybe that's not the only thing. Because Jack is discovering that while hanging around with girls in elementary school was perfectly acceptable, having lots of girl friends (as opposed to girlfriends) now is getting him and Brad labeled as Band Fags. And Jack is no fag. Is he?
As Jack and Brad make their way through junior high and then through Hazel Park High School, their friendship grows deeper and more complicated. From stealing furtive glances at Playgirl to discussing which celebrities might be like that, from navigating school cliques to dealing with crushes on girls and guys alike, Jack is trying to figure out who and what he is. He wants to find real, endless love, but he also wants to be popular and "normal." But, as Brad points out, this is real life — not a John Hughes movie. And sooner or later, Jack will have to choose.
Filled with biting wit and pitch-perfect observations, Band Fags is an exhilarating novel about lust and love, about the friendships that define and sometimes confine us, and about coming of age and coming to terms with the end of innocence and the beginning of something terrifying, thrilling, and completely unpredictable.
"It's the "80s and Jack Paterno of Hazel Park, Michigan (a.k.a. Hazeltucky) plays trumpet and hangs with the oddball 'band fags,' including his Best Friend, Brad Dayton, who's always embraced his homosexuality. Jack wonders if he's 'like that,' and also if a Total Band Fag could ever be a Popular Guy. Polito shows great fondness for and recall of all things "80s (Jordache jeans, mid-period Bee Gees, Jon-Erik Hexum, Nintendo etc.) as Jack's journey through Webb Junior High and Hazel Park ('Hillbilly') High becomes an angst-ridden rollercoaster ride. Polito also has the era's teen talk down: Jack's headlong narration is sweet and funny. And the book's light and breezy 'know thyself' ethos paves the way for possible YA crossover." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Polito's debut novel is a funny, exhilarating coming-of-age story filled with biting wit and pitch-perfect observations, as two best friends discover they have more in common than being in the band.
About the Author
Frank Anthony Polito is a Brooklyn-based actor and playwright. He can be seen in the films One True Thing with Meryl Streep and Renee Zellweger, Hitch with Will Smith, and The Peacemaker with George Clooney. On TV he has appeared on Spin City, The Sopranos and One Life to Live. On stage he has worked off-Broadway at Primary Stages and Revelation Theater and played the role of James in the Washington, D.C. premiere of Corpus Christi by Terrence McNally.
Frank's first play, John R, was produced in New York City in 2001 and is the basis for Band Fags! Other plays have been seen at the New York International Fringe Festival, Bailiwick Repertory Theatre in Chicago, Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, VA, and at The Dayton Playhouse in Dayton, OH. His teleplay, Blind Faith, was a finalist for the Alfred P. Sloan teleplay competition at Carnegie Mellon University where he received his M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing in 2006.
Frank grew up in the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park, near 10 Mile and John R. He began playing trumpet in 6th grade (but later switched to French horn) and is proud to have been a Band Fag.
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