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The title itself, Tip of the Tongue, may form a mental picture of a thought nearly uttered then momentarily forgotten. Alternatively, the book’s name may conjure images of an inconspicuously visible internal organ. Metaphorically, both views are written into the story, and the wagging tongues of deviant behavior are on display.
In Tip of the Tongue, author Stewart Bellus examines the lives of three characters battling desperate loneliness and rejection. With echoes from real life public figures who have fallen from grace due to perverse private activities, this outwardly respectable threesome is doomed by hidden vulnerabilities and private fantasies. He knowingly increases their suffering by choosing New York City as the setting, its sheer immensity fully capable of uncivilly isolating lost souls. In this brazen setting -- where emotional beings are easily stranded among artificial structures -- mass media, museums, theaters, and eateries provide indispensable touch points to a distancing humanity. On the conscious level, the individual questions their existence.
There is undoubtedly no better environment than this for pulling together multiple characters with a neurosis -- that special mix of conflicting emotions and behaviors that may lead to perversions, multiple personalities, self-deceptions, and other feel-good mechanisms effected in the pursuit of happiness.
Ordinary people struggling to swim upstream -- a journalist, a high school teacher, and a star student athlete -- the author’s play-actors successfully spawn fantasies to perpetuate life cycles of thrills. Obsessed, temporarily unmindful of the truth, these people conveniently tune-out before their moral personalities have a chance to speak, and offer only glimpses of substitute personas designed to mask and protect an inner ugliness that isn’t meant to be seen.
The beauty and strength of this contemporary work lie in the author’s treatment of a typically taboo subject concerning perversion and obsessive manipulation, the fat underbelly of this literary, psychological feast fed by a diet rich in deception. Mr. Bellus ensures through a close-up examination of the affected characters that Tip of the Tongue will awaken readers to the possibilities of being secretly observed or manipulated, whether in public or private.
This elaborate story captures the insanity of fantasy and manipulation gone astray. In a depiction of the antics and betrayals employed by those wedded to a deviant fantasy, Tip of the Tongue helps the reader decide which falsities are worth concealing.