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[621] Man About Town – Mark Merlis


” Until that instant, he truly had not comprehended that his predicament was a shameful one. Why? No one ever called a gay man cuckold: infidelity was the norm, it was no reflection on you if your lover occasionally partook of strange meat. ” (Ch.3, p.78)

I like who and what Man About Town is about: Joel Lingeman, a middle-aged civil servant specializing in health care issues who has just been abandoned by his longtime partner for 15 years, searches for a bathing suit model about whose image in a magazine Joel fantasized as a youth.

Most of the novel is meditation on self-pity, and the sublime realization that everything Joel had taken for granted is now gone. He is back in the dating scene, or, more like the cruising ground of a bar. He reflects that “he had simply been unavailable for many years, and now he was available, like an out-of-print book that has been reissued.” (Ch.3, p.81) The unexpected hole in life prompts his search for some 1964-edition of an Esquire-like magazine that contains a swimsuit as that obsessed him throughout his youth.

There had to be a reason, some pathology. It couldn’t be that happy and well-adjusted straight people were just plain bewildered by Joel Lingeman,bewildered and disgusted. To admit that would be to say that he was still bewildered and disgusted by himself. (Ch.5, p.177)

While Joel ruminates and reminisces about his mistakes and tries dating again, the book also veers off to explore the political life in the bureaucracy surrounding the Congress. The most interesting subplot involves the progress of a homophobic amendment to a Medicare bill. Then there is the “young kid” for whom his lover leaves him. These two promising stereotypes resolve anticlimactically and then just disappear. The pursuit of the swimsuit midel, which seems the least feasible, moves on but ultimately doesn’t get anywhere.

Man About Town shines in its ideas but not the story. It’s an intelligent musing on age, monogamy, race, and being gay. It’s obviously a book with a bag of ideas relevant to being a gay man in changing times. It raises such contemporary issues on both a political and personal level. The book seems to hinge on a parody of the heroic quest, one of an older gay man who is entranced and puzzled by the ways of youth, and preeminently one’s own youth and how quickly t evaporates. He’s settled for a conservative life but tickled by his long-dormant desires. The book falls apart nearing the end and the resolution painfully falls short of my expectation.

360 pp. Harper Collins. Paper. [Read|Skim|Toss] [Buy|Borrow]

[599] Almost Like Being in Love – Steve Kluger


” If I have to call every one of them, I’ll find him. Okay, maybe he doesn’t need a psychopathic history professor showing up from the Twilight Zone, and maybe he won’t even like me any more. But he still has my heart—and if he’s not using it, I want it back. Otherwise I’m going to go on loving him for the rest of my life. ” (Ch.6, Travis, 150)

Charming, engrossing, funny, and original (I usually don’t attach so many adjectives to a book), Almost Like Being in Love is a book about first love, true love, and love in general. Craig McKenna is a high-school jock, the future alpha-male. Travis Puckett is the nerd who hitch-hikes 300 miles for a musical album. The nerd has resisted speaking to the jock because he’s afraid (when he does he squeaks). Finally, in 1978, during their senior year, they become fast friends. It isn’t long that they are completely, hopelessly in love with each other. After a very memorable summer in New York, they are off to attend their respective colleges—and slowly drift apart.

Maybe he just wants to catch up on the old days. Maybe he’s in a jam and he needs my help. Maybe I’m full of shit and know it. There can only be one reason he’s tracking me down after twenty years: he wants to find Brigdoon again. But this time for keeps.
I’m in big trouble.

Fast forward twenty years. Travis is a history professor at USC who has no luck in relationship. The neurotic, obsessive-compulsive musical and baseball freak takes love advice from his students by insidiously working questions in their American History test papers. On a very extravagant date Travis has an epiphany that he is still in love with Craig—and he decides to put his whole life on hold, including a $30K research grant, and starts out on a coast-to-coast hunt for the boyfriend.

Being Travis was a full-time job, yet that never kept him from teaching me how to be Craig.

So the book is primarily about Travis and his trip to look for Craig, who is an attorney with activist inclinations and a soft spot for runaway kids. Travis’s biggest obstacle, beside breaking into Craig’s mother’s office to pillage the Rolodex, is that Craig is in a long-term relationship with Clayton. The trip is full of embarrassment on Travis’s behalf, as he blunders his way through the road. The commendable hook of Almost Like Being in Love is the epistolary form, told via school assignments, checklists, emails, menus, journal entries, transcripts, and narratives, which allow the story and the characters to keep up their antics without overwhelming the reader with their constant clever, hilarious dialogue.

I am personally in love with Travis who, despite his quirky and unbelievable action, strikes me as someone who is real. Craig is also a perfect counterpoint with his activism and virtue. Throughout the book one can see Travis’s lasting influence on Craig. Even Craig’s relationship with Clayton is well-drawn and touching, making me wonder how this love triangle will turn out. long with all the humor, wit, and clever innuendo, the story is at heart a romance and an ode to first love.

354 pp. Perennial Paper. [Read|Skim|Toss] [Buy|Borrow]

Sexual Awakening

” The culture at large regularly instructs people on how to be heterosexual. Movies, television, popular music, and advertising are about almost nothing else. But gay men and women, at least until recently, have had only books to help them find or invent or test their identities. ” –Christopher Bram, Mapping the Territory

When you were a 11-year-old boy who just arrived in America, who were surrounded by an incomprehensible culture, and who was gay, who could to you confide in all your fear and confusion? Despite the advent of civil rights for the gays, I’m surprised at how much Bram and I have in common our experiences of being a young homosexual. In Mapping the Territory, a collection of essays that falls into the autobiographical zone, Bram mentioned the books that made him as a person. Mr. Bram and I are two generations apart, yet we are both at the mercy of books, which offer the most diverse set of tools for an individual to find his self. I could be prejudiced here, but I believe literature provides a looser, broader, more varied medium in which to explore one’s identity than movies and television do—even now as gay and lesbian images make their way into mass media. A book has a delay factor, that is, the time taken to finish from cover to cover is way longer than watching a movie. Back when financial resources were limited, I read my way into homosexuality. I remember stopping by two bookstores on the way home from school, Doubleday on Sutter and Bretano’s in the San Francisco Shopping Center on Market, where I lost myself in a forest of books. I wouldn’t go as far as calling myself a literary construct, but the love of books was already stamped into my being before I realized I was attracted to men. I loved books before I loved bodies—the bodies didn’t appear until junior high. Ina society where all voices are pro-heterosexual, homosexual thoughts are strictly taboo, let alone the lust. I don’t remember the title of the psychology book I stumbled upon in the bookstore, that gave me the first usual piece of information, about most adolescents go through a homosexual phase. Bookstores were heaven for this solitary and private, self-sufficient and bookish kid who wanted to read up for being gay. Books were magic: I found myself entering a dialogue with them. I use them to address my sexuality, a safe place where I can try out different roles. More important, I see through books the kind of life that I would have learned to want through my reading.

[435] Union Atlantic – Adam Haslett

” A plot of land. That’s what Doug told his lawyer. Buy me a plot of land, hire a contractor, and build me a casino of a house. If the neighbors have five bedrooms, give me six. A four-car garage, the kitchen of a prize-winning chef, high ceilings, marble bathrooms, everything wired to the teeth. Whatever the architecture magazines say. Make the envying types envious. ” (1:19)

Full of intricate nuances, Union Atlantic is a timely novel that not only bears prescience but also resonates with the snowballing financial crisis that sweeps the country. While the book presents a clear, indicting vision of how we wound up in the economic cesspool, it explores how people are caught up in the societal urge and take up causes that are wildly at odds.

In the beginning Doug Fanning was on board a naval ship in the Persian Gulf during the height of Iran-Iraq War. He was among those responsible for a terrible military error, shooting down a plane with 290 civilians on board. He’s not fazed by this incident, although years later it lingers on the fringe of his consciousness, nor is he troubled by his subsequent quasi-legal activities at Union Atlantic, once a tightly regulated, cautiously run institution but now a financial conglomerate powerhouse as a result of brazen and aggressive manoeuvres orchestrated by Doug.

These days much of the world seemed drained of presence to him, not by his doubt of anything’s existence but because objects, even people sometimes, seemed to dissipate into their causes, their own being crowded out what had made them so. (Chapter 4:75)

If Doug Fanning has a cause, it’s not money-oriented, despite the power he has wielded and the vast money he brings in for the bank. Nor is it greed. In Fanning there exists an ego so stupendous and exhaustive that he prides in testing the length to which he can manipulate global financial market, imperiling the investments of unwitting citizens but increasing his company’s earnings. To reward himself, he builds a garish mansion in the town of Finden, MA. His palatial spread is viewed with extreme distaste and agitation from his neighbor Charlotte Graves, who claims that the house is built on preservation land that was gifted to the town by her grandfather on the understanding that it will not be developed. Holed up alone and poised on an insurgent attitude against civilization, Charlotte, however, is not so eccentric as being uncapable of creating legal struggle for Doug. She retains “the energy for a more or less permanent outrage at the failure of the shabby world to live up to its stated principles.” (12:198)

Connecting the two antagonists is Nate, a college-bound senior who seeks tutorial help from Charlotte, a retired history teacher, for his AP exam. An intrusive on impulse subjects him to Doug’s acquaintance. But the teenager, unaware of his homosexuality, has more than a burning crush for the financial titan, who is more than happy to satisfy his physical desire in exchange for any information Nate might retrieve from Charlotte’s house. Branched off from the legal dispute is Nate’s pure affection for someone who only takes advantage for his love.

The inertia of the plotlines in Union Atlantic sustains my interest throughout the book. The freighted clash between Doug and Charlotte is a microcosm of what is going on in the world. While the novel elucidates the moral and economic consequences of deregulated financial institutions, it aims to expose and indict the corrupted root and deceit of those who take advantage of the inefficiency and inadequacy of the system. What Charlotte despises is not someone like Doug, but the system at large that encourages such a personality. Winning the case would justify her case, not only against Doug and the town (which violates the trust and sells the land for monetary gain), but against her larger enemy: that general encroachment of money, waste, display, greed, and self-entitlement. Haslett has been criticized for the lack of emotional punch in his characterization–I disagree. Doug’s expedient character seems shallow at first, but gradually the signs of repressed anguish begin to accrue, partly brought out by the tenderness he might have felt for Nate. This is a great read, full of emotional states.

354 pp. 1st ed. Trade Paperback. [Read/Skim/Toss] [Buy/Borrow]

[247] The World of Normal Boys – K.M. Soehnlein

“But mostly he wants to get away from this room; more than that, he wants to slip into the swarming darkness at the back of his skull and merge as a different boy–unobtrusive, disinterested, normal. Someone not worth an argument.” [166]

The World of Normal Boys is a coming of age novel even though Robin MacKenzie just plunges in puberty, aging from 13 to 15. Set in suburban New Jersey in 1978, Robin is about to begin high school, which he has been waiting for not so much for privilege but for the liberty to explore his sexuality. At a time when teenage boys around him make the transition into young manhood, which is characterized by sports, fast cars, and girls, Robin enjoys day trips to New York City with his elegant mother, who is raising him to be like her: snobbish, literary, and cultured. Robin, however, can feel his father’s silent disappointment whenever he shifts his expectations to his bratty younger brother.

Humiliations great and small greet him every class period. [22]

All I know is nobody wants some kid their own age talking like their dumb mother. Why do you think Larry’s a;ways bothering you? You ask for it, Robin. [30]

As Robin secretly pursues the fulfillment of his sexual desires, a tragic accident befalls the family and plunges them into a spiral of slow destruction. Guilt overcomes his younger sister who turns into a religious fiend. His father’s once comfortable detachment has hardened into rage that targets at his being rebellious and inconsiderate; his mother’s irresistible style has been honed to a brittle edge frayed further by her drinking. They have become strangers who argue and stare at each other in anger and confusion.

I made a friend, you should be happy I have a friend. A guy friend. Isn’t that what everyone expects, for me to be more like a guy? Have guy friends? So you know what guys do? They ditch school and hitchhike and smoke and they don’t run home to their mother like crybaby… [103]

So Robin becomes a juvenile delinquent who gets deeply involved with two outcasts, Todd Spcier and Scott Schatz. He embarks on a perilous odyssey of sexual self-discovery, unbeknownst to his parents, who blame it on the aftermath of the accident, that leads to larger questions of what it means to stand on his own. Tension of the family trickles into the root of the MacKenzies’ unhappy marriage, revealing that his mother has been a stuck-up housewife who feels her life has been wasted.

I thought, ‘Robin is not like any of those other boys.’ I couldn’t even describe the difference. I mean, I could, but it would sound cliche. He was gentle. He was emotional. He was sensitive. [244]

The World of Normal Boys is so true to life in its delineation of the bittersweet conundrums of adolescent queer love. Packed with so many significant events and milestones, Soehnlein captures the shift of family dynamics in the face of a tragic loss. It’s an ode to a loving and intuitive mother who wants to protect her son from being a social outcast by paving the path for him to live a normal life, that is, assimilation. Although Robin is still uncertain about his future, his awakening homosexuality is preparing him for what the harsh real world might throw at him. At times queasy and unflinchingly explicit, this book explores growing pain to the fullest.

282 pp. [Read/Skim/Toss]

[233] Crystal Boys – Hsien-yung Pai


“In this kingdom of ours there are no distinctions of social rank, eminence, age, or strength. What we share in common are bodies filled with aching, irrepressible desire and hearts filled with insane loneliness. In the dead of night these tortured hearts burst out of their cages, bearing their fangs and coiling their claws as they begin a frenzied hunt for prey.” [30]

As befit to Banned Book Month, I took up my friend’s timely recommendation of Crystal Boys by Hsien-yung Pai, who is one of the very few Chinese (celebrated) homosexuals that have come out. Pai is appreciated for sophisticated narratives that introduce controversial perspectives in Chinese literature. First published in the Chinese language in 1983, Crystal Boys (Sons of Sin) has been the seminal work of gay Chinese literature. It tells the story of a group of homosexual youths living in 1960s Taipei largely from the perspective of a young, gay runaway, A-Qing, who serves as its main protagonist. A-Qing comes from an impoverished single-parent family. His father cats him out after learning that he is gay. Eventually A-Qing drifts into New Park (now the 228 Memorial Park in Taipei), a gay hangout and begins his life as a hustler.

In the dim light of the reddish moon above we look like a pack of sleepwalkers, frantically stepping on each other’s shadows as we skirt the lotus pond, never stopping, round and round, in crazed pursuit of that nightmare of love and lust. [30-31]

These boys are not mere shadows under the moonlight in the narrow strip of land surrounding the lotus pond hidden by a tightly woven fence. They are shadows of a society that does not have a place for them. Regardless of their status, education, and eminence, they are all forsaken by their families because of their being homosexuals. Until they find true love, they have to eke out a living with their bodies with no feelings involved. In their sealed-off, congested world, they all reach out hungrily, desperately, trying to retrieve something from other’s bodies that they have lost on their own. When A-Qing meets Dragon Prince, who has lived in exile in America to save the face of his father, Crystal Boys steers into the theme of filial love that lays the foundation of Chinese society. His fateful love for another hustler boy at the Park about ten years ago has become a legend.

The whole lot of you, young as you are, have no self-respect and no drive to better yourselves. Instead you get involved in cheap, shameful activities! How would your parents and teachers, who worked so hard to educate you, feel if they knew what you were doing? Sad? Pained? You’re society’s garbage, the dregs of humanity, and it’s our responsibility to rid society of you, to put you away… [191]

Crystal Boys was way ahead of its time in portraying underdogs in a society that pronounces heterosexuality as the sole moral code. It exemplifies to the full how society is constantly on guard against anything and everything labeled as disorder, which might disrupt order. The individuals that are labeled as disorder might be ostracized, but perfectly undeniable is the blood-tie to the families, however dysfunctional they might be. Pai’s writing is contemplative and penetrating, bearing all the grief, indignities, humiliation, and injustices that have filled A-Qing’s heart since he was expelled from the society. The landmark novel weaves together themes of survival, redemption, and love that only those who have lived through the loneliness of the time could understand.

328 pp. [Read/Skim/Toss]

Modernism in the Eyes of Pai Hsien-yung

I started Crystal Boys (Sons of Sin 孽子 in original Chinese text) by Pai Hsien-yung, who is generally considered among the greatest living stylists of Chinese fiction and prose. Born in China in 1937, he studied in Taiwan and came to the U.S. in 1961. He became a professor of Chinese literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1965, and retired in 1994. The book paints a very poignant picture of the gay community in Taiwan during the 1970s, which is better known as buoliquan, literally glass community, where the individuals are known as glass boys. The novel follows a short period of the life of A-Qing, expelled from his family because he is gay, who begins the life as a hustler. I haven’t read an opening paragraph more dismayed and repressed than this:

There are no days in our kingdom, only nights. As soon as the sun comes up, our kingdom goes into hiding, for it is an unlawful nation; we have no government and no constitution, we are neither recognized nor respected by anyone, our citizenry is little more than rabble. . . We prick up our ears like a herd of frightened antelope in a predator-infested forest, forever on guard against the slightest sign of danger. The wind gusts, the grasses stir; every sound carries a warning. We listen for the sound of the policemen’s hobnailed boots as they march past the green barrier that separates us; the minute we hear that they are invading our territory we scatter and flee as if on command . . . [17]

Social outcasts they are—unwanted by their families because of their being homosexual, the book exemplifies how modernism is principally concerned with order. Modernity (modernism) is fundamentally about order: about rationality and rationalization, creating order out of chaos. The assumption is that creating more rationality is conducive to creating more order, in this case order is synonymous to morality defined by heterosexuality, and that the more ordered a society is, the better it will function (the more rationally it will function). Because modernity is about the pursuit of ever-increasing levels of order, modern societies constantly are on guard against anything and everything labeled as “disorder,” which might disrupt order. Thus modern societies rely on continually establishing a binary opposition between “order” and “disorder,” so that they can assert the superiority of “order.” But to do this, they have to have things that represent “disorder”–modern societies thus continually have to construct “disorder.” In the novel, in the society that doesn’t tolerate homosexuality, this disorder is the gay community and the individuals who live in it. Likewise in western culture, this disorder becomes “the other”–defined in relation to other binary oppositions. Thus anything non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual, non-hygienic, non-rational, (etc.) becomes part of “disorder,” and has to be eliminated from the ordered, rational modern society. This book is a testimony of how far the gay community has evolved over time. It draws the picture of what life was like for gay men in our recent but little-known past.

[232] Gods and Monsters – Christopher Bram


He screws up everything Clay’s been taught to feel about the world, and yet Clay does not want to avoid him. It’s like he wants to be confused, which makes Clay feel oddly guilty.” [189]

In this novel Christopher Bram reconstructs the last days of the once-famous James Whale, who directed Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein. Although surviving a stroke that doesn’t impair his mobility, the director who lives in retirement is suffers olfactory hallucination. More so than death, he is afraid to wake up with his mind in pieces, for it has betrayed him for so long that it cannot regain his trust. He has taken fancy of his gardener, Clay Boone, who has become his sole companion with whom he can talk about his past, which has been haunting him.

So what if the guy is a homo, as long as he keeps his hands to himself? But accepting that, knowing it and accepting it, feels just as wrong to Clay, passive and cowardly. [176]

As Clay becomes more assured that the old man is not pawing on his skin, he finds himself being admitted to Whale’s harrowing past. The old man has a secret agenda for his confident. I understand that Gods and Monsters aspires to morph the horror and atrocities of the First World War into a horror movie. On the surface the novel also explores gay issues in 1950s Hollywood, where stereotype is invincible. But the flow of the novel is as snarled as the director’s mind, which is slowly giving in to senility and delirium. The appearances of Elsa Lanchester, Greta Garbo, Charles Laughton, George Cukor, Princess Margaret and Elizabeth Taylor in this novel unfortunately don’t compensate for the slow and somewhat disjointed story-line. Bram has managed, however, to fashion a love story of Whale and his obsession with his handsome yardman out of the grim material of Whale’s suicide. I would have enjoyed reading it more if Bram would pick up the pace sooner than 70% into the book instead of makng loops.

270 pp. [Read/Skim/Toss]

[227] Gossip – Christopher Bram


“There’s got to be something else. What are other people for? Something besides sex and money and votes. Or we wouldn’t constantly talk about each other. Are we just entertainment? Distractions? Are we just burying our own shit in other people’s shit?” [305]

Christopher Bram delves into the adage “the personal is political” and wages war against the dark, manipulative forces and conspiracies against gays in Gossip. Ralph Eckhart, 34, is the manager of a Greenwich Village bookstore who adopts a mild political view. Young but a bit jaded, he enjoys falling in love yet knows not to trust it. Despite his passion for Bill O’Connor, a young closeted Republican who writes misogynistic propaganda, he knows he should not wear his heart on the sleeves too soon.

Even requited, such love would be foolish, messy and brief. Unless it changed Bill’s politics. That fantasy was back, larger than before, giving value to lust, turning sex with a Republican from a self-betrayal to a good deed, a moral rescue. Bill went against his best interests by seeing me. [92]

They are lovers, even if neither of them is in love, because God political discrepancy and political conservativeness forbid. When Bill writes a tell-all book that spreads gossip about women in Washington, including a footnote about a lesbian affair between a speechwriter, who happens to be Ralph’s friend Nancy, and a married senator, Ralph ends the relationship. He picks friendship over love: it’s no way he can be with someone whose lie has hurt a friend and jeopardizes her career.

You would have to be blind not to realize that I’ve had second, third and fourth thoughts about us ever since we met. It was over our political differences yet I now see that your politics are symptoms of deeper faults: opportunism, thoughtlessness, and self-absorption . . . I have been sleeping with the enemy . . . [146]

But it isn’t anywhere near the end. The end of personal liaison marks the beginning of a power struggle between left- and right-wing politics, fueled by a homophobic culture that has defined the politics. Ralph is charged with homicide after Bill was found dead in his apartment, coincidentally, just days after the author has come out on national TV to win Ralph back. He is arrested on no grounds except that he was once a politically aware gay man who once knew the right-wing victim.

Deeply disturbing and chilling, Gossip is both a knife-sharp satire and revelation of how in a politcally charged environment, nobody can afford to show themselves in a bad light, and in defending and sustaining a cause, anyone, regardless of affiliation and beliefs, can become an institutional liar. Christopher Bram drops the bomb on politicians left and right, exposing all the hypocrisies that unfortunately sustain the political climate of this country. At one point Ralph is asked why he isn’t angrier at the violation of his rights, and that he is emotionally and politically autistic. The truth ironically is that Ralph is the only person who is not morally blinded by the so-called cause pertaining to any political interests. It just shows how assimilating to a general cause can backfire that an individual can lose his own identity and idiosyncrasy. Gossip is convincing but disturbing: a book that I enjoy reading but not sure if I love reading. The ugliness of the content is as unbearable as Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

337 pp. [Read/Skim/Toss] Well-written and witty, but my ineptitude and indifference in politics will render this book less memorable. This is an important book of our time.

[223] Prime Time – Douglas Dean

“He had almost forgotten the intoxication of such moments, it had been so long since anything like this had happened to him. God, he thought, this is just what I need. A lusty affair. Not just a one-night stand but a real affair. His blood rushed..” [80]

Consider that Douglas Dean had been a fixture of the theater scene in San Francisco, and that he had been a columnist and feature writer for The Advocate, I’m a late boomer to his (posthumous) literary glories. Under the pen name of Douglas Dean, Dean Goodman published twelve paperback novels and Prime Time is his last, released in 1988.

What separates Prime Time from other gay paperbacks is Dean’s knack of instilling in a linear plot passages of lyrical and poetic beauty. To be honest, what kind of gay fiction would it be without sex scenes? But Dean has handled these scenes with grace and moderation. The flow of intimate moments is so natural and reasonable, erotic but not lewd. It springs from the heart. Prime Time indeed explores the human condition of gay men.

His earlier instincts had not been wrong. He and Craig O’Brien had exchanged subliminal messages during their first meeting, and the messages they exchanged today were even stronger. [80]

Once again Eric felt the surge of power. He was amazed at the passion which this man awakened in him, welling up like a furious flood clamoring for release behind a concrete dam. [141]

Set in San Francisco in the mid 80s, a few years into the regan administration, the novel chronicles the story of three friends: Eric, Albert and Kentucky. An actor, a novelist, and a playwright, respectively, who still have dreams of scuuess and new height in their career. While the book touches on many literati, art, and gay scenes across America with flashbacks of the men’s lives, the main focus is Eric Chamberlain, whose acting career has been stagnant and underestimated. His frustration with life’s most mundane, like coping with Social Security that might go bust, and battling with retarded management of a dyfunctional public transit agency, doesn’t seem unfamiliar even today, 20 years later. At work he has to defend himself against treacherous professional enemies who out of jealousy thrive on attacks and destruction in order to discredit him.

He felt as if he were a character in a story by Edgar Allan Poe, trapped in a room without doors and the walls of the room were closing in on him, coming nearer and nearer until they would suffocate him and crush the life out of him. [101]

In the midst of all these is a soul searching process that would eventually lead to an understanding of self-worth. The title Prime Time, after all, is pun-intended. It bestows a sense of urgency to seize the moment to love and to be loved. The witty prose explores how people with different moral values and outlook in life have to negotiate their difference, even to compromise in order to achieve success in relationship. Between physcial and emotional fidelity, there ought to be a balance that would make a relationship feasible. It’s a fairly new concept to me who is more concervative when it comes to exclusivity. Dean, however,does have a point about taking a chance in what might be a lifetime happiness.

315 pp. [Read/Skim/Toss]