Narcissistic college students spend a semester studying their own rampant sexual diversity: a second novel from Rice (A Density of Souls, 2000).
Randall Stone and Kathryn Parker are freshmen at Atherton University, “the eleventh-ranked school in the country.” They've known each other for less than three months but think of themselves as soulmates. Kathryn is straight, Randall gay. What they have in common is a particular kind of dualism that pairs throbbing sensitivity with selective detachment. Which is to say both have developed immune systems to cope with the concerns of those they consider less significant on the human scale—Kathryn's well-meaning parents, for instance. Both kids work hard at being complex, Randall rather more successfully. At the story's outset, he's in a complex relationship with Eric Eberman, an art history professor of considerable reputation and breathtaking good looks. Eric, married, as yet “un-outed,” is gripped by a “burning attraction to the preternaturally assured young man.” A fatal attraction, it turns out, at least in terms of its impact on Mrs. Eberman, who one snowy night drives her car off a bridge and into the Atherton River. “I saw. I know,” reads the note she leaves behind. So: a tragic accident, or did Lisa Eberman kill herself? There are those who come to believe in an even darker explanation. This, after all, is the second mysterious drowning linked to Eric, the first 13 years earlier. Feeling guilty about the size of his own role in Lisa's death, Randall embarks on a search for answers. Meantime, parallel investigations are being mounted—by Kathryn and others—into enigmatic Randall, who, it turns out, is not even Randall. After some jerrybuilt surprises and a Grand Guignol finish, most of the answers are duly revealed.
A callow novel about adolescents for adolescents—the second from Rice (A Density of Souls, 2000), son of Anne.