Gabriel Noone is a writer whose late night radio stories have brought him into the homes of millions. Noone is in the midst of a painful separation from his lover of ten years, when a publisher sends him proofs of a remarkable book: the memoir of a sickly thirteen-year-old boy who suffered horrific sexual abuse at the hands of his parents. Now living with his adoptive mother, Donna, Pete Lomax is not only a brave and gifted diarist but a devoted listener of 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's always wanted. Thus begins an extraordinary friendship that grows deeper only as the boy's health deteriorates, freeing Noone to unlock his innermost feelings. Then, out of the blue, troubling new questions arise, exploding Noone's comfortable assumptions and causing his ordered existence to spin wildly out of control. As he walks a vertiginous line between truth and illusion, he is finally forced to confront all his relationships - familial, romantic and erotic.
As complex and hypnotically engrossing as the best of mysteries, "The Night Listener" is an astonishing tour de force that moves and challenges Maupin's readers as never before.
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(198mm x 128mm x 23mm)
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
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UK Kirkus Review »
After an eight-year absence that has seen his fans re-read most of his oeuvre at least twice, Maupin makes a startling return to the fray with a brave and unsettling novel about his alter ego, a star of radio fiction called Gabriel Noone, who is writing an autobiographical novel. In both fact and fiction the purpose is as much intensely personal therapy as entertainment. As in the Hitchcock thrillers Maupin so loves, games are played with the audience's expectations. The starting points for the narrative are two real-life events. Maupin and his partner Terry Anderson, went through what is called a 'cocktail divorce', confronting themselves and their relationship when it became clear that, thanks to a new drug cocktail, Terry was no longer living under a death sentence from AIDS. As in real life, Noone and his lover face the additional pressure of the romantic expectations of a million fans of their fictional other selves, trailblazers in the cause of gay visibility in mass-market fiction. The second event, less traumatic than downright weird, was when Maupin found himself drawn into a purely telephonic friendship with a kid dying from AIDS contracted at the hands of sexually abusive parents. Said kid had written an astonishing memoir which Maupin was all set to help launch, only to have doubt cast on whether the kid actually existed or was, perhaps, the creation of the ultra-protective foster mother who was allowing nobody to meet him in person. From these two potent narrative ingredients, Maupin weaves a teasing mystery story. This isn't Mary Ann Singleton on the trail of a serial killer, but Maupin sleuthing himself out. Going in search of the boy who has become a kind of son to him, Gabriel Noone finds himself at last able to confront and work through his highly problematic relationship with his right-wing Southerner dad and to perceive the father-son elements in his painfully evolving relationship with his ex. Anyone who knows something about Maupin will be startled at how much of himself he dares to bare and any Tales fans suffering withdrawal symptoms will be happy to make the acquaintance of DeDe's daughter Anna, now a highly savvy young adult working as Noone's part-time bookkeeper and full-time confidante. Review by PATRICK GALE Editor's Note: Patrick Gale is the author of Outlines: Armistead Maupin (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Armistead Maupin
Armistead Maupin was born in Washington, D.C. in 1944 but was brought up in Raleigh, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he served as a naval officer in Vietnam before moving to California in 1971 as a reporter for the Associated Press. In 1976 he launched his daily newspaper serial, Tales of the City, in the San Francisco Chronicle. The first fiction to appear in an American daily for decades, Tales grew into an international sensation when compiled and rewritten as novels. Maupin's six-volume Tales of the City sequence - Tales of the City, More Tales of the City, Further Tales of the City, Babycakes, Significant Others, and Sure of You - are now multi-million bestsellers published in eleven languages. The first three of these novels were adapted into widely acclaimed television mini-series. Maupin's 1992 novel, Maybe the Moon, chronicling the adventures of the world's shortest woman, was a number one bestseller. The Night Listener was made into a feature film starring Robin Williams and Toni Collette in 2006. Armistead Maupin lives in San Francisco, California. For more information about Armistead Maupin and his work, please visit his official author website at: www.armisteadmaupin.com