Lesley Choyce's novella The Summer of Apartment X is a beach book for grownups who remember how they got that way. Fred Winger and his two buddies, Richard and Brian, intend to take the beach resort town by storm. It's the fateful summer between high school and university, early 1970s version. Equipped with two barely mobile cars and a seized-up MG motor, around which Richard wants to build an entire sports car, they plan to rent a suave apartment, get cool jobs, meet girls, and lose their virginity. Dream and reality diverge immediately.
307 1/2 Hibiscus Street is an old triplex subdivided for summer tenants into a self-contained ghetto. The only window in Apartment X is in the kitchenette, and the entrance is through the outdoor shower used by the entire building. The friends find work: Brian cleans the parking lot and grill of a grease-encrusted burger joint, and Richard preens himself on his lofty — though brief — position as a lifeguard. Fred replaces the drunken usher at the Queen Theatre, where monsters slavering over shrieking blondes and Annette Funicello's bursting brassiere entertain necking teens and "pervs" too timid to patronize real porn flicks. Fred's feelings for his chameleon girlfriend lurch from love to lust to horror, depending on whether she's demurely selling movie tickets, acting out erotic fantasies about saving the world on the back seat of a school bus, or sharing the shower with Brian.
The Summer of Apartment X lurks in everyone's past: the first foray beyond the view of elders, the first attempt at self-support, the shocking recognition that adulthood involves more than sand, sex, and cars. Lesley Choyce recreates this exhilarating terror in the Technicolor of a B-movie poster, nostalgia undercut at every turn by ebullient humour.
Lesley Choyce is the author of over ninety books. He has won the Dartmouth Book Award, the Atlantic Poetry Prize, and the Ann Connor Brimer Award, and has been shortlisted for the Governor General's Award. He lives in East Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia.
"Delightfully rambunctious ... a comedic treat ... Cannily deploys and turns on their heads all of the standard elements of the nostalgic coming of age tale ... Nobody would want to live in Apartment X, but it's a fun place to visit."
"Realistic characters with dialogue that rings true ... a heartfelt story with which many readers will be able to identify."