Superstar Gilbert Marcus rapes and kills a young woman in a hotel room during the off-season. That's the prologue. MVP is Marcus's life story from conception to his act of incredible violence. Raised an only child -- the son of a difficult and demanding father -- Gilbert Marcus, a basketball player with extraordinary skill, is expected to be the greatest. His life is one of both excessive privilege and immutable obligation. He becomes a monster. James Boice is a startling and exciting new voice in fiction, and MVP is his ambitious and fascinating debut.
This stunning debut from Boice opens with Gilbert, a pro basketball star, raping and murdering a young woman in a Las Vegas resort. Boice then circles back to an account of Gilbert's warped life, largely spent beneath the demanding thumb of Gilbert's washed-up ballplayer father, Mervin, who sees in Gilbert a chance to capture the greatness that eluded him. Thus, Gilbert endures a regimen of awful health food (Mervin: "Death begins in the colon!") and endless drills (running alongside his father's car in the dark while Mervin throws coins at his head). Gilbert jumps straight from high school to the pros, where he racks up championships and MVP awards and secures global superstardom while still just an insecure (yet grossly narcissistic) man-child who is both seduced and tormented by the sex- and celebrity-obsessed culture he sits atop. Changing fortune brings a tanking team, a nationally televised humiliation, and money and marital problems, and the cracks in Gilbert's psyche begin to spread ominously. When Boice revisits that night in the Vegas hotel room, Gilbert's path from a lonely, sensitive boy to the monster choking an unnamed girl is clear, convincing and shocking. With its bristling intelligence and crystalline prose, this provocative novel secures Boice's status as a player to watch.