Amiable diversion, more Freaky Friday than Dorian Gray.

WHEN YOU WERE ME

Wealthy middle-aged gay man depressed over his lost youth takes supernatural measures to swap bodies with a penniless young stud.

Still smarting over the breakup with his longtime lover Harry, 53-year-old Jack Ackerly is ready for a change. A cultured man of leisure living very comfortably off the proceeds of the sale of his advertising agency, Jack yearns for the carefree carnal existence he denied himself by not coming out until he was 30. In his desire to turn back the clock he seeks out Francesca LaBrash, a chatty witch who agrees to help him transfer his consciousness—if he can find another body willing to trade identities with him. Enter Corey, a 26-year-old sometime-waiter who Jack accidentally hits with his car. Corey, while undeniably hot, leads a life of dissipation, masking his low self-esteem and fear for his future in an endless stream of anonymous hook-ups. About to be evicted from his squalid apartment, he is exactly what Jack is looking for. Offering Corey his millions in exchange for his body, Jack and the financially desperate younger man seal the deal and Francesca works her magic. Needless to say, both men get far more than they bargained for when assuming each other’s lives. In Corey’s hard body, Jack prowls Chicago’s gay underworld making up for lost time with a wide array of one-night stands. Jack-as-Corey then sets his sites on seducing Harry, and bonds with Corey’s close friend Frida, a self-destructive young woman who needs a little tough love to turn her life around. Meanwhile, after getting past his dismay over his new body’s comparative decrepitude, Corey-as-Jack realizes that he has a chance—using Jack’s money and connections—to actually help people. Jack then starts to feel guilty for taking Corey’s youth, and rushes to reverse the spell just as Corey is struck down by a dance-related emergency in a disco. Rodi’s latest spoof (Bitch Goddess, 2001, etc.) at times reads like a commentary on the youth-centric superficiality of gay culture, but it is careful to leave a sweet aftertaste.

Amiable diversion, more Freaky Friday than Dorian Gray.

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-07582-1533-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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