A compassionate tribute to hate-crime victims.

A GATHERING STORM

Currier (The Forever Marathon, 2013, etc.) explores Matthew Shepard’s murder in richly empathetic fiction.

Currier recently unearthed his manuscript, written in the wake of Matthew Shepard’s death in 1998. Though set in a small town in the South, “This story could happen anywhere.” Rick and A.J. meet Danny, a gay college student, in a bar and beat him in their truck before leaving him for dead, tied to a fence post. Subsequent chapters bounce between back story and aftereffects, deftly interspersing hospital and police station scenes with vignettes from Danny’s everyday life. After a roadside rape and attempted suicide, Danny wonders how to be a homosexual in the Bible Belt. It is simple to hook up with strangers but impossible “To be out, open, romantically gay in a small town like this.” Written in powerful, choppy sentences and consciously patterned after screenplays and true-crime stories, Currier’s novel is told in the present tense, shifting among the perspectives of the many characters involved. Effective litanies of phrases beginning with “He will not”—“He will not see the snow. But he will feel the cold, his arms numb”—contrast Danny’s carefree activities on the day before the crime with his current incapacitation, revealing the legacy he will not live to see. One bravely cinematic chapter traces a blood sample’s journey to the laboratory. Technical and emotive languages are given equal importance: “his neural repatternings are transforming him into pure spirit”; “Cords snake around chairs, looking for outlets.” Currier’s sympathy also extends to the perpetrators, as he uncovers sexual traumas in their pasts. In a sensitive juxtaposition of Christian responses to homosexuality, the openness of Rev. Fletcher combats the intolerance of Rev. White, who brings his “God Hates Fags” message to town to boycott Danny’s funeral. Readers might find it difficult to keep the many characters straight, especially since most chapters simply open with “He” or “She,” but the large cast shows how widely a crime’s ripples extend. “The story mushrooms, grows branches” and eventually affects us all,” Currier writes. In 1998, he felt “the crime was analyzed and politicized but oddly not humanized”; here he imbues it with human warmth.

A compassionate tribute to hate-crime victims.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1937627201

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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