Mann’s party boys make a sexy first impression but prove surprisingly deep upon further inspection. The same goes for Where...

WHERE THE BOYS ARE

Against a background of sweaty bodies, fierce divas, and the drug-induced lust of gay circuit parties, former lovers struggle to reconnect.

Picking up where The Men From the Boys (1997) left off, Mann brings thirtysomethings Jeff O’Brien and Lloyd Griffith back together years after their relationship fell apart and their best friend and mentor Javitz died of AIDS. Jeff and Lloyd have traveled divergent paths in the meantime. Jeff, living in Boston, has become obsessed with working out, casual sex, drug use, and circuit parties where he can meet thousands of beautiful, shirtless gym bunnies on the dance floor. Lloyd, living in Provincetown, has found his spiritual side, remained celibate, and eschewed the narcissistic adventures his ex-lover has embraced. Despite these differences, when the two come together, old flames are rekindled and the men start to rebuild what they’ve lost. Complicating matters, though, is a web of secondary characters who keep interfering. Jeff has a circle of friends—including nebbish-turned-stud Henry, who looks up to Jeff the way Jeff once looked up to Javitz—who don’t want to see him settle down in domestic bliss. And Lloyd has an unbalanced business partner who’s jealous of Jeff’s intimate bond. Mann weaves this emotional tale deftly, shifting narrators from Jeff to Lloyd to Henry and giving insight into each one’s motivations. Two mysterious characters—Lloyd’s partner Eva and Jeff’s latest infatuation, Anthony—add interest by having secrets that are only gradually revealed. A breezily conversational tone makes for an easy read even as Mann grapples with complex questions facing many gays today: What does family mean? Why is trust so simple among strangers and so difficult between lovers? How can the patterns be broken that paralyze emotional growth?

Mann’s party boys make a sexy first impression but prove surprisingly deep upon further inspection. The same goes for Where the Boys Are.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7582-0326-8

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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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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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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