In Garrad Conley’s memoir, Boy Erased, he recalls the night Chloe invites him to have sex to maintain their relationship. Conley ends up playing video games with Chloe’s brother Brandon for the entire night, whom he soon discovers to be gay too. Brandon is later caught in an affair with another boy and is harassed by many people. Conley destroys all his gaming equipment and volunteers to go to a treatment center in a nearby city.
“I had once heard someone call the city a trash dump, and I’d been offended at the time, but now I could see how they were right. It was the place where things came and went, home of the FedEx headquarters, the city with the most available overnight flights to other cities in the country, steel barges on the Mississippi floating right through the center of it–But the things that gathered and collected here, the things that stayed and took root, these were the things that gave the city its sense of abandonment. ” (p.80)
This passage is located near the beginning of a new chapter and immediately sets the mood for the readers. In the same chapter, Conley mentions that it has only been “Two full days at Love in Action, and the city had already lost its shine.”(p.79) It indicates that it isn’t necessarily the city that has lowered his mood, but rather it is the treatment program that appears to make him anxious. The first sentence of the passage above immediately tells us his change of opinion and gives us a contrast of Love in Action’s purpose and the reality it creates. By using words such as collected and abandonment, Conley gives us a chilly atmosphere that is unsettling and lonesome at the same time.