Aperature, a slightly askew, slightly perverted bildungsroman, is the story of Garnie, who at ten speaks with an affected English accent and lives in a dilapidated house in a small town in Iowa. It is the 1940s and the war arrives, and even in rural Iowa lives are altered. Garnie’s Auntie Rye is a tall person who shaves as she reads gothic fiction to him, and she has a penis. Auntie Rye is extremely rich (old Chicago money) and Garnie wants for nothing. Nothing except better living conditions, indoor plumbing, and to find out what happened to, and where in the world his Mommy and Daddy are.
Their life together progresses through the explosion of their home, prejudice against Auntie Rye’s Communist leanings, their travels to Chicago and New York, along with their weekly sojourns in a 1934 Dodge sedan across the Mississippi on the suspension span into Wisconsin, somewhat curtailed by gas rationing. They encounter the famous and the interesting in their travels, along with more than slightly unusual common folk. Through it all, Garnie, the gifted progeny of someone (Garnie has trouble determining whom) pursues his love of photographic art. The pair’s lives and choices are shaped by the Second World War. And while Garnie’s interest centers on the war, photographically, he also has an intense interest in the penis, his own and others. As Garnie passes through puberty and arrives into his teenage years filled with baseball, visions of war and death, music, Catholicism, and distinctive town folk, he also discovers who he is and what he’s about.
This is his adventure, his story as told by him. But the war must end and so must his story, not with a whimper, but a bang.