Tompkins Square Park, East Village, NYC, 2001.
Teen runaway Fluke Crowley is fast on his feet—key to surviving Alphabet City’s cruel streets. Fluke steals a messenger bag from a guy in an Avenue A restaurant, which holds the crude manuscript of the man’s peculiar life story: Conrad D’s descent into drug treatment, his stormy relationship, his love for Jack Kerouac’s books and lifestyle. As he reads, Fluke notes the strange coincidences in their vastly different lives. Fluke’s and Conrad’s paths eventually, inevitably and unforgettably cross—as they learn about each other, themselves, and the kaleidoscopic and wholly unique Tompkins Square Park neighborhood they share.
Fluke is attempting to survive a year on the streets, but those he’s wronged with his various schemes, including a pair of fearsome gutter-punk thugs, has him hustling for his life. Tapping Tompkins Square’s rich history of squatting, punk rock and protest, When I Was Punk is at turns humorous, harrowing and heartbreaking.
It is the second novel in Michael J. Malone’s Tompkins Trilogy.