A HUNDRED DAYS FROM NOW

Corbin (No Easy Place to Be, 1989) offers a fierce exploration of love, race, and sexuality as a black screenwriter loses the man of his dreams in a terrifying maze of homophobia, self-hatred, abuse, and AIDS. Dexter, a hot new African-American writer, meets Sergio, a rich Mexican-American bilingual book publisher, on a lonely Thanksgiving when he wants nothing more than a ``quick drink, an even quicker fuck.'' But Sergio doesn't let him go so easily, and Dexter enjoys being ``wined and dined'' all over Los Angeles. Sergio further impresses Dexter when he has the guts to reveal he's HIV-positive and symptomatic. Even though Dexter casually replies, ``Oh, that?... Who isn't?'' he doesn't reveal his own positive, although asymptomatic, status yet. But soon after, Mr. Perfect begins to show flaws. He coerces Dexter into a mÇnage Ö trois, he remains closeted to everyone in his family except his heterosexual twin brother, he has no gay friends, and then his health deteriorates when he gets AIDS-induced Kaposi's sarcoma. Dexter resolves to stand by him, and hope comes when Sergio gets accepted into an experimental bone-marrow transplant procedure for twins- -they'll know in a 100 days if the transplant will give him another seven or eight years or even cure him completely. But Sergio's insistence on telling his close family he contracted AIDS from an old girlfriend, telling everyone else he has leukemia, and most reprehensibly, claiming he's paying Dexter to take care of him and ordering him around like a servant as Corbin unflinchingly describes the grueling daily care, makes Dexter a martyr if he stays and guilty if he doesn't, since even the doctor believes that Sergio can't make it without him. Easy to read, sometimes to the point of being simple—although this can't diminish the importance of this raw, honest, and brave work.

Pub Date: June 1, 1994

ISBN: 1-55583-232-6

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Alyson

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1994

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...

FIREFLY LANE

Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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