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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Nincompoop: A Novel by John C. Picardi follows Leonardo, a twenty-something-year-old man who moves to New York City with big dreams. In New York, his friend Julia helps him get a job at a small bar in the East Village called Bar Plato. The reader gets to know him as someone with a strong need for attention and someone who is a people-pleaser. It is not long before Leonardo discovers that the owner of the bar, Jack Fresh, a film star, and his wife, Mara, are addicted to drugs, alcohol, and sex. Can he get through the abuse and achieve his dream of making it on Broadway? How about his deepest yearnings for love and a life partner?
This is a character-driven story filled with drama, written in a cinematic style and featuring well-developed and realistic characters. The setting is well-written and the reader gets a clear image of New York in the 1990s, with its bars, gay discos, and city streets. Each chapter or episode is accompanied by a playlist that conveys nostalgia for the period. This book is set when HIV was an increasing concern and when gay marriages were hardly a possibility and in this context, a young man longs for a partner. The descriptions are terrific, and whether the author is describing a scene or a character, he does so with vividness. The characters are likable and the protagonist will inspire sympathy and, at times, a sense of pity in readers. Nincompoop: A Novel is well-plotted, filled with drama and characters that are as real as the person next door.