What a beautiful, suspenseful story. Armistead Maupin has a gift for writing stories that feel lived in, and characters that feel like old friends. Here he’s dealing with a semi autobiographical story of a storyteller who starts talking on the phone to a young fan with a tragic backstory. To say much more than that would spoil the drama. Maupin’s author stand is in the middle of a relationship upheaval, and the frayed edges of the romance are really compelling. There are a lot of stories about people falling in love, and not as many about people trying to figure out if they’re still there. The extended family dynamics are compelling, and feel real.
I has just read Eminent Outlaws, which contextualizes the story as it relates to Maupin’s own life and experience, and while that added another level, I suspect the novel would have been equally hypnotizing on its own.
It’s a story full of illness and death, but in a very upbeat way. It’s about living alongside these things, and not letting them get in the way of family and love and creation. I absolutely loved it.