Stirred by the death of his cynical father Max Underwood vows to find purpose in the adult world, but looks in the most dangerous places. Fresh out of college, he’s confident destiny awaits him in Boston; his new boss, a social entrepreneur with ambition to match his own, seems the perfect mentor but increasingly leaves him out of the loop as she builds her afterschool empire. Meanwhile, his subterranean apartment never gets comfortable as tensions build between his two friends—one a dashing romantic, and the other a brooding cynic who creates an internet groundswell when he posits that young men of their generation are destined to destroy themselves. As Max finds it ever more difficult to draw inspiration from his job, his friends, or his broken family, two new figures enter his life, both as alluring as they are detrimental. A prison inmate, presumably Max’s to tutor, ends up teaching Max a thing or two about spirituality—and about powerlessness. And a quirky, but unavailable, medical student seduces Max with her relaxed atheism and tendency to rhyme like Dr. Seuss after two glasses of Bordeaux.
Discontent turns to desolation when Max’s idol dies in a thrill-seeker suicide. Unable to sleep, spiteful of his privileged life, he roams the city streets at night seeking alternative sources of wisdom, but answers elude him. His dangerous acquaintance with two Roxbury gang members, a daunting encounter at a swingers club, his botched attack of a South Boston rowdy and a drug-induced tour of a desecrated graveyard (and his own mind) give him no peace but rot his soul, and he considers whether discovering his end might be the enlightened path. On his most desperate day Max sets these wheels in motion but discovers, to his horror, that he’s not ready to die.
Read the first chapter.
Max Underground is registered with the United States Copyright Office.
Unpublished work. © 2008 James R. Cooney.
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