A wise, sorrowful tale.

READ REVIEW

THE MARRIED MAN

White leaves the first-person, autobiographical world of his trilogy (The Farewell Symphony, 1997, etc.) and portrays a romance—and its dissolution—across three continents and six countries with his characteristic wisdom and sexual frankness, darkened by a new sense of foreboding.

Fifty-ish, HIV-positive, and recently heartbroken Austin Smith is an American scholar living in Paris, where he writes primarily about furniture. In his gym, he meets Julien, a married French architect some 20 years his junior. With effortless narrative velocity, a romance ensues, and so does the novel’s travelogue, first with short excursions around the Paris area, then outward to detailed passages in Nice, Venice, Rome, Vermont, Montreal, Disney World, Key West, the Yucatan peninsula, and finally Morocco. In the early Paris sections, Austin’s relationship with Julien develops against a background of elegant salons, privileged expatriates, and an assimilated gay subculture, with White sharply and drolly observing social manners—as well as the ethical issue of when to tell a lover about a dread disease. Midway through the story, Austin accepts a teaching position at a university in Providence, Rhode Island; Julien divorces, leaves his firm, and follows. In something of a reversal, the Providence sections introduce complications the initial set-up didn’t anticipate: Austin discovers the malignant, politically correct demagoguery of academia—but it’s Julien who develops the much more serious problem of full-blown AIDS. Austin compromises principles, grows if not robust than rotund, while the once apparently healthy Julien goes into a sad and rapid decline. At heart here are issues of loyalty and the suspension of the erotic in the face of a terminal disease. The music of tragedy swells to operatic proportions in Morocco, where Julien’s lingering death invokes elements of the divine, the clinical, and the macabre. Here, the graphic sex of White’s earlier work is replaced with graphic medicalia, and its thematic urgency by a poignant, bone-weary resignation to the now sadly predictable injustices of life and death in the gay community.

A wise, sorrowful tale.

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-40005-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

THE HONEY-DON'T LIST

A toxic workplace nurtures an intoxicating romance in Lauren’s (The Unhoneymooners, 2019, etc.) latest.

Rusty and Melissa Tripp are the married co-hosts of a successful home-makeover show and have even published a book on marriage. After catching Rusty cheating on Melissa, their assistants, James McCann and Carey Duncan, are forced to give up long-scheduled vacations to go along on their employers' book tour to make sure their marriage doesn’t implode. And the awkwardness is just getting started. Stuck in close quarters with no one to complain to but each other, James and Carey find that the life they dreamed of having might be found at work after all. James learns that Carey has worked for the Tripps since they owned a humble home décor shop in Jackson, Wyoming. Now that the couple is successful, Carey has no time for herself, and she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for her creative contribution to their media empire. Carey also has regular doctor’s appointments for dystonia, a movement disorder, which motivates her to keep her job but doesn’t stop her from doing it well. James was hired to work on engineering and design for the show, but Rusty treats him like his personal assistant. He’d quit, too, but it’s the only job he can get since his former employer was shut down in a scandal. Using a framing device similar to that of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, the story flashes forward to interview transcripts with the police that hint at a dramatic ending to come, and the chapters often end with gossip in the form of online comments, adding intrigue. Bonding over bad bosses allows James and Carey to stick up for each other while supplying readers with all the drama and wit of the enemies-to-lovers trope.

When a book has such great comic timing, it's easy to finish the story in one sitting.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3864-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more