A stranger comes to town in Benjamin Lytal’s debut novel, “A Map of Tulsa.” Only that stranger, the protagonist Jim Praley, is himself — the person who used to live in town, back home for the summer, and adrift.
With one year’s elite schooling under his belt, Jim the wannabe poet and amateur Delacroix, Goya, and Chardin connoisseur returns to Tulsa “magnificently hollow.” His assignment? “To prove that it was empty. And in hopes that it was not.” He wants to reexamine his old city through a new, proto-Bohemian lens. He wants to taste the antics of a new crowd. “I didn’t like people who I ‘knew,’ ” he grumbles. No summer job or apparent responsibilities, the sophomore stumbles from party to party, thirsty for experience that can shape him, asking himself, “Are you supposed to sleep with everyone you meet?”