The Night Listener Read ´ 104

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Armistead Maupin one of America's literary icons returns after an absence of eight years with the tale of Gabriel Noone a writer whose late night radio stories have brought him into the home of millions Noone is in the midst of a painful separation from his longtime lover when a publisher sends him proofs of a remarkable book the memoir of an ailing thirteen year old boy who suffered horrific abuse at the hands of his parents Now living with his adoptive mother Pete Lomax is not only a brave and. Originally reviewed for Uniuely PleasurableFirst a disclaimer This review covers the original publication of the novel and not the movie tie in version The movie varies substantially and is really rather dreadful from the original novel and it is unknown if the tie in version of the novel was rewritten to incorporate new information andor details found in the movieThe novel The Night Listener is Maupin’s fictional take on his interaction with Anthony Godby Johnson a “young boy” who was presented as having been brutally abused as a child Johnson wrote a book that was sent out in galley form to many celebrities and like JT Leroy who would claim the same thing many years later and subseuently be proven a massive hoax the celebrities took to this boy many becoming friends with him over the phone You can read about the cases by search out either Johnson or Leroy onlineI have to admit upfront that I am an unabashed fan of Maupin’s work There is a simplicity to his prose that belies the emotional complexity of the characters he creates and whether it be his series Tales of the City or his departures from that series like Maybe the Moon it is rare for me to find fault in his work There is also an almost Hitchcockian feel to the plots of his novels which while never detracting from the almost whimsical tone of his stories always creates a nice blend of genres The Night Listener however is perhaps his greatest departure from this style a dark and brooding look at loss and betrayal and the need for human contact It can be a brutal read a friend to whom I lent the book called it “one of the most depressing novels” she’d ever read But what it also is is a novel which really explores the range that Maupin has as a storyteller and makes him in my mind one of the best novelists out there gay or straightMaupin is in thin disguise as Gabriel Noone an author of radio stories who is at a turning point in his life when he makes contact with Pete Lomax the stricken boy Noone’s longtime lover–who never expected to survive the AIDS epidemic–has moved out and while the romantic relationship has ended the connection between Noone and his ex will be a lifelong one Jess simply needs to find a life beyond waiting to die But what it does for Noone is leave a huge hole in his life an emotional and intellectual void that needs to be filled So when Noone connects by telephone with Pete and finds him to be a witty well spoken young man a friendship begins to develop Noone needs someone who adores him and Pete desperately needs a father figureMaupin brilliantly captures both Noone and Pete The malaise Noone has found himself in is palpable a man who suddenly finds himself feeling a no one Noone because he has lost the one person who has helped to define him for decades Likewise Maupin’s depiction of Pete is heartbreaking but utterly realistic He is smart and funny his humor as dark as his own past and Maupin gets the pattern of speech of a teen boy exactly right Though essentially a minor character Noone’s ex Jess is also excellently drawn Jess isn’t reduced to a cardboard cut out While was a saddened that he has decided to leave Noone we completely understand his desire to get out there and see what life–a real life–holds for him Pete’s adoptive mother–though a very minor character through the first half of the novel–is also flesh and blood We feel the compassion that led her to adopt Peter We understand her ferocious protectiveness of him We even understand why she won’t let anyone meet him And then Maupin does something brilliant He turns all that has come before on its head Why hasn’t Donna let anyone meet him Does Pete’s voice really sound all that similar to Donna’s Surely the editor of Pete’s book has checked out his story Suddenly we begin to suspect Pete We begin to distrust Donna Everything we have learned before we begin to uestion and we feel deep down inside the conflict Noone feelsWhat Maupin does so well in this book is make you care about this Pete as interestingly enough had happened to Maupin and the other celebs Johnson had been in contact with so that when doubt is cast upon his existence you are as devastated as Noone The result is a literary gut punch And Maupin expertly takes us from needing to believe Pete and Donna to suspecting them To wanting them to be real–for their own sakes as well as Noone’s–to needing them to be proven a hoax because the evidence of such a hoax is so remarkably overwhelming It is a brilliant feat of writingto make three characters Noone Pete and Donna that you as the reader desperately want to believe The result is a deeply psychological game of suspense that moves at a brisk pace one that would make Hitchcock proudThe Night Listener is not an easy read at all from an emotional standpoint As a reader a lot is demanded of you and you likely will feel worn out after reading it but the ride is so worth it

characters The Night Listener

The Night ListenerDly out of control As he walks a vertiginous line between truth and illusions he is finally forced to confront all of his relationships familial romantic and eroticFew novelists in America write with such unerring insight and honesty in mapping the territory of the human heart And in The Night Listener Armistead Maupin has given us his most ambitious and daringly imaginative work As complex and hypnotically engrossing as the best of mysteries it will move and challenge his readers as never before. “The Night Listener” is a very good example of how a mystery novel can shine without creepy settings and dark characters in action packed storylines This is a deeply moving uiet and very emotional mystery that builds its enchanting plot lines with subtlety It prevails by keeping the main focus on wonderfully depicted character interactionThere isn’t all that much story to the novel in fact but still it feels like a very uick compact read This is mostly due to Maupin’s talent as a storyteller and his keen insight for character building The protagonist radio playwright Gabriel Noone has a distinct alter ego feel to him but he’s complex and imperfect enough Noone is in a total state of transition facing old age and loss on so many fronts that he needs to start redefining big parts of his identity His rapport with a disembodied voice of a fan is like an anchor during a time when everything concrete is either changing shape or dissipating altogether And that’s what this book is really about after all the uestions and mysteries And this is also a novel about hope but not only about its most obvious forms It’s mainly about the kind of hope that’s present in the darkest of thoughts and ideas just barely keeping us from slipping

Armistead Maupin Í 4 Read

The Night Listener Read ´ 104 á Armistead Maupin one of America's literary icons returns after an absence of eight years with the tale of Gabriel Noone a writer whose late night radio stories have brought him into the home of millions Noone is in the midst of a painful separation from his longtime lover when a publisher sends him proofs of a remarkablGifted diarist but also a devoted listener to Noone's show When Noone phones the boy to offer encouragement it soon becomes clear that Pete sees in this heartsick middle aged storyteller the loving father he has always wanted Thus begins an extraordinary friendship that only grows deeper as the boy's health deteriorates freeing Noone to unlock his innermost feelingsThen out of the blue troubling uestions arise exploding Noone's comfortable assumptions and causing his ordered existence to spin wil. I thought I knew what to expect from this book and how it would resolve itself because I knew that it was based loosely on Maupin's relationship with Anthony Godby Johnson the teenage boy who wrote the memoir A Rock and a Hard Place a book I read and which affected me uite a bit both when I read it and when I found out years later that it might all have been a hoax Lots of famous people were taken in by the possibly non existent Johnson including Maupin and author Paul MonetteI was not expecting just how Maupin's reworking of the story into fiction would affect me It hit me on a few levels The way his character Gabriel Noone describes his incredible connection with the young Peter Lomax which mirrored so well the relationship I have with so many teenagers; the conversation Gabriel has with his own father towards the end of the book which I wish I could have had with my own father; and how the beginning and end of the book come somewhat full circle and yet still leaves you wondering that satisfied but unsatisfied feeling I love and hateI listened to this on cd and had mixed emotions about Maupin reading his own work He has a clear speaking voice that sometimes sounds like the actor Michael Emerson a good thing and sometimes sounds like the commentator Andy Rooney not so good in my opinion Mostly though he gets to the heart of Noone letting him sound appropriately pathetic when the character is acting pathetic and giving him a certain uiet nobility when the character is in the right and the other characters are wrongDefinitely recommended Now I think I need to go watch the movie version