SEX WITH STRANGERS by Geoffrey Rees

SEX WITH STRANGERS

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An egregiously overwritten, underplotted, self-absorbed first novel about a young gay man's search for sex, friendship, and love. Thomas Hobart is fleeing his hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts, though why is anybody's guess; we learn nothing about his family background or past there. The 18-year-old New Englander plans to ``reinvent'' himself as a Chicago college student; his adventure begins on the train when he meets Dennis, the sexy conductor. During his freshman year, Thomas will have weekly trysts with Dennis, finding him good sex but rotten company. Friendship lies elsewhere, with charismatic graduate student Michael and his lesbian friends. In the company of these ``Pomo- Homos'' (postmodernist homosexuals), Thomas sharpens his wits and eases his loneliness, enjoying an innocent slumber party and a trip to the dunes. When he transfers to New York (school and area of study unspecified), sex and friendship come together in his love affair with impecunious painter Stuart, whose Brooklyn house he shares for two tumultuous years. Characters aren't well differentiated--Stuart (``a tornado of animal energy'') echoes Thomas's Chicago's friends ``swirling like a cyclone through Hyde Park''--and Thomas is so self-absorbed that he doesn't notice Michael has AIDS; all that counts are his violent emotional spasms, which leave him shaken and disoriented and his friends asking: ``What was that all about?'' Disregard the come-on title: Rees skittishly avoids the sex in Thomas's encounters. A pity--the play-by-play might have helped to cut through the solipsistic fog.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-374-26165-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1993