Tommy Flowers, a thirty-year-old dropout from St. Petersburg who has become a self-proclaimed urban revolutionary in New York City. Like his idols James Dean and Holden Caulfield, he sees himself as an outsider, defiant in the face of established authority, a confirmed malcontent who makes terrorist raids on an oppressively corrupt society and its stifling conventions. At first, these attacks on conformity are pranks—shoplifting, defaulting on cab fare or the check for a meal, engaging in sex and drugs at any opportunity, and alarming shoppers by announcing that there is a bomb in Bloomingdale’s. The menace becomes less playful after he manufactures a real bomb and carries it around Manhattan with him. He sets up a ménage of misfits with Ben, Nedda, and his dog Arnold, but this surrogate family fails to satisfy his need for a community that allows individual expression. After Ben dies and Nedda flees for the security of the suburbs, Tommy, in a final aggressive (he would say redemptive) act, takes his bomb and wires it to go off in a telephone booth near a policeman.
Nedda Lemon, an aspiring cellist who has fled the suburbs for the promise of a career in New York City. What she finds instead is a mean, cold city that offers, at best, the prospect of being booked to play the Lord’s prayer at bar mitzvahs in Brooklyn. Despondent, she meets Tommy in the ladies’ room at Bloomingdale’s,...
(The entire section is 507 words.)