The neatly ordered days of a gay man in New York are disrupted by his irascible father’s illness.
Grossman (Unexpected Child, 2000) follows art historian and bartender Brian Moss through the last unpleasant weeks of the life of his father Avery, a real-estate developer not mellowed by age. The senior Moss suffers a series of small strokes that alarm Brian’s twin sister Beryl, who, as a successful real-estate developer, is the son Avery wishes he had had. The philandering Avery reared the twins with the help of an African-American housekeeper after their mother was killed in an automobile accident when the children were five. Throughout his adult life, Brian has had nothing to do with his father, who has been openly contemptuous of his son’s interest in art and men. Living in almost monastic quarters in Manhattan, drawing beers for the gay clientele of The Barracks to support himself, Brian has found an outlet for his interests in art at a New Jersey community college, and sexual release in anonymous encounters at the Shackle, a bar much rougher than his own. Then, just as his father’s illness begins to disrupt the dull balance Brian has reached, he makes an unexpected emotional connection with one of those anonymous sexual contacts. The possibilities offered by that encounter, as well as revelations about his mother’s last days, help send Brian to Paris in the company of his charming young niece. And there, in the quarter glamorized by Brian’s favorite painter Toulouse-Lautrec, his life is pleasantly jostled yet again.