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The Boom Economy

Or, Scenes from Clerical Life

Brian Bouldrey

Publication Year: 2003

Dennis Bacchus is a man who has outlived himself. HIV-positive and prepared to die at any minute, he finds himself in the late 1990s blessed with life-giving drugs, supportive friends, a boom economy, and an era of never-ending celebration—and he doesn’t know what to do with himself.
    For ten years he has traveled and celebrated a curtailed life with the similarly infected Jimmy and, though Dennis was never that close to Jimmy, he decided to let the friendship run its course to the end. Now there’s no end in sight. Stuck with leftover friendships, careers, and commitments, what can a man do but become a priest? The Boom Economy covers what was supposed to be the last decade of Dennis Bacchus’ life, but turns out to be the first decade of the rest of it.
    The Boom Economy is a novel about conversion—not just seroconversion or religious conversion, but all of the social, spiritual, and emotional problems of changing from one life to another. At once raucous and serious, pagan and saintly, it’s a look at the way we live now. Again.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

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Vicar, Victoria

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pp. 3-23

Other than the waitresses, big surprise, Isabelle was the only woman in the entire restaurant. Here in green, island like Vancouver, the three of them—Isabelle, Jimmy, and Dennis—had been fierce tourists with a strict itinerary: the anthropology museum and University of British Columbia (hosting an international Sas-...

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Breathing: San Francisco,January 1991

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pp. 24-37

It was a week after New Year’s, and city workers had taken down the holiday decorations. The city was under scaffolding, under repair. Even though the earthquake had done its damage a year and a half before, the insides had to be trussed up, and all the money in San Francisco was thrown at mending its backbone. Every build- ...

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Moss: France, May 1993

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pp. 38-55

Europe sacked! That’s what Dennis thought when he looked out onto the platform and saw another American with two bags loaded down with ceramics, cheeses, bolts of fabric, religious figurines. Dennis, on the other hand, felt himself paring down: his body, physically, and his possessions, specifically. It felt great. He saw himself as a sleek weasel, or ...

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Conversion: San Francisco, May 1994

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pp. 56-71

The city sparkled, unveiled like a new statue, cleaned up for the United Nations rededication. Some of the scuzziest streets int own were tidy and bright for the ceremonies. The homeless were, for the moment, maybe squirreled away somewhere like the czar’s peasants during European state visits. Ground had been ...

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Hagiography: Carcassonne,France,March 1995

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pp. 72-81

For somebody lukewarm about France, Jimmy ex-pressed surprise that Dennis was so eager to be back within two years of his last visit, when he’d met Isabelle on the train. Jimmy had wanted to go, too, one of their “last hurrah” voyages, even though Jimmy reminded them both that the term no longer applied. ...

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En Passant: San Francisco,August 1995

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pp. 93-112

Zoe had called his home number, but it was for business; it turned into a social call after that. She was almost as chipper as the night she gave Rigo his memorial award, and that made Dennis nervous. “Dennis, it’s just incredible.” The words rushed. She had one of those cell phones everybody was getting now, and since ...

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Decadence: Santa Clara, California, November 1995

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pp. 113-128

From the window of his simple room in the Jesuit seminary, Dennis watched the stones that made up the building opposite become polka-dotted with intermittent rain. Even here in Santa Clara, California, the trees looked dead—blown in a uniform direction like lines of fright wigs. Over the ocean, which he made a point ...

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Religious Experience: Minneapolis, January 1999

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pp. 129-169

He could see Mary Jane Draper through the front porch window, ungainly, determined, and dangerously perched on a stepladder. This made Dennis Bacchus wonder who was supporting whom. It made him laugh to think about this new life, in which he spent the better part of his mornings doing just what they’d said he’d...

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Land of Lakes: Mankato, Minnesota, June 1999

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pp. 170-187

“Oh,” he had written, and then said out loud, “forget it,” and left the thing unfinished. Dennis Bacchus’s recitation of occasional blues had evolved into lyric, and he had attempted, lately, to write for himself a series of water songs, because he loved water, and missed water, and how could that be in the land of ten thousand ...

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Pain Management: Santa Clara, August 1999

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pp. 188-210

The room is jaundiced, he thought, and caught the mistake—Dennis couldn’t help himself. To give emotions to things made him feel hysterical, like a character out of a Tennessee Williams play; to personify this room’s curtains or running water made him seem a child in a fairy tale; to see the world through his clunky ...

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Water Song: The Pacific Northwest, September 1999

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pp. 211-240

These water songs, which he’d been working on lovingly and secretly now for a year, were work for the soul, Dennis decided, because they were entirely against his nature, just as clueless Danny had said. As a teacher-priest, he had no problem composing homilies and lectures and letters and papers. But the water song ...

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Everything Fruits: Vancouver, September 1999

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pp. 241-253

The seat was hard. Dennis, sulking, felt like a butterfly in a collection, pinned to the chair. No, a beetle. Jimmy kept calling him to look out his window, you’re gonna miss it, you’re gonna miss it, but they’d been walking around town all day and Dennis justs at there. It was the morning after the Quebecois incident at ...

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Bore Tide: Alaska, September 1999

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pp. 254-268

He had a stanza to go but no more to say. How to resolve the song? He’d made a trap of his own rhymes, not as many words rhymed with “out” as he thought, and a song about the doldrums, how could he be expected to make it move? And it had nothing to do with the Yukon or the Klondike, which is where he wished ...

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Boom Economy: San Francisco, November 1999

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pp. 269-283

The city was in scaffolding. Every house was being bought up at huge prices, and with all the extra money, the houses were getting gay new paint jobs, roofs, updated plumbing. Every escalator into the subterranean Muni stations broke down, groaning under the weight of throngs. The mail came at 6:30 p.m., when it came at...


E-ISBN-13: 9780299189037
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299189006

Publication Year: 2003