Malloy, Brian 1960-
MALLOY, Brian 1960-
PERSONAL: Born 1960, in Philadelphia, PA; partner of Terry Straub. Education: Attended University of Minnesota General College.
CAREER: Writer. The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis, MN, director of development.
AWARDS, HONORS: Top Ten Adult Books for Teenagers citation, 2002, and Alex Award from Margaret Alexander Edwards Trust, 2003, for The Year of Ice.
The Year of Ice, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Contributor to The Man I Might Become: Gay Men Write about Their Fathers, Marlowe, 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Novels and essays.
SIDELIGHTS: Brian Malloy is a Minneapolis-based fiction writer whose talent and tenacity paid off with the publication of his debut novel, The Year of Ice. No stranger to family tragedy himself, Malloy has been able to create characters who use humor as a coping mechanism in difficult situations. Malloy is also deeply interested in portraying gay culture past and present, as his characters, like him, find meaningful partnerships with or without family support. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called him a "talented writer" with "a razorsharp comic touch."
Malloy was born in South Philadelphia in 1960. His grandfather owned the popular Malloy's Bar in the working-class neighborhood. Malloy's father died young, leaving the author and his two siblings before they had reached adulthood. An older brother stepped in and helped Malloy ease into maturity—the brother, too, died young. In 1978 Malloy moved to Minneapolis, where he studied writing at the University of Minnesota. While holding a series of jobs he wrote fiction on the side, enduring the inevitable frustration of rejection slips and indifferent agents. After many years of perfecting his craft, he submitted his unagented third novel, The Year of Ice, to publishers. Several professed interest, and he sold the manuscript to St. Martin's Press. The novel was published in 2002.
The Year of Ice is set in Minneapolis in 1978, a particularly cold winter in which the Mississippi River froze over and temperatures frequently dipped below zero. Kevin, the novel's protagonist, is a high school senior who enjoys full contact football and keg parties—and who is also a closeted gay secretly in love with a classmate. Kevin's life is further complicated by his mother's recent death, which may or may not be a suicide, and his father's remarriage. Such a string of difficulties might plunge a sensitive young man into depression, but Kevin revels in loutish behavior that shields him from deep contemplation of himself and others. New York Times Book Review contributor Suzanne Berne observed: "It is a tribute to Malloy's skill that he can hand us a narrator who is a vain, shallow, frequently mean-spirited bully and make him sympathetic. Malloy does not condescend to Kevin. In fact, he seems to have a sneaking admiration for Kevin's boorishness, secretly prompting him—through a series of run-ins with his father, a little sexual experimentation, and the acquisition of a despised stepmother—toward a more considered, considerate view of other people and life's strange twists."
Although The Year of Ice deals with gay issues, St. Martin's Press marketed the novel for a mainstream readership, and it was widely and warmly reviewed. A Kirkus Reviews critic found the work "amiable, told briskly and with considerable style—and happily lacking in the mawkish cant that mars so many gay memoirs." Minneapolis Star Tribune correspondent Rick Nelson called Kevin "the Everyman of the deeply closeted gay teen set." The same critic declared: "The story is a grabber from the get-go. . . . The Year of Ice extends far beyond the humdrum coming-out/coming-of-age genre." In Booklist, Ray Olson commended Kevin's character as "more self-possessed than nearly anyone else around him." Olson concluded: "This book's a beauty, whatever you call it."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2002, Ray Olson, review of The Year of Ice, p. 1676.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2002, review of The Year ofIce, p. 760.
Minneapolis Star Tribune, August 18, 2002, Rick Nelson, review of The Year of Ice.
New York Times Book Review, August 11, 2002, Suzanne Berne, "A Boy's Life," p. 13.
Publishers Weekly, May 13, 2002, review of The Year of Ice, p. 48.
Brian Malloy Home Page,http://www.malloywriter.com/ (June 10, 2003).*