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[296] The Hour Between – Sebastian Stuart

” I wanted to live in safe little rooms like that, busy with small domestic chores, away from the pull of my fevered needs and confusion of my future. ” [11:93]

The Hour Between reads like an amalgam of different coming of age stories. Set in 1960s New England, the charmer of a novel is well-written and rife with all the usual ingredients: class difference and anxiety, celebrity, vanity, counter-culture experimentation, suicide, alcoholism, and drugs. On the heels of his expulsion from a Manhattan prestigious college preparatory, Arthur MacDougal, who is really a good kid who struggles to come out to his parents, is sent off to a boarding school run by Christian Scientists in Connecticut. There he meets Katrina Felt, troubled daughter of a Hollywood movie star, and with whom he forges a tender friendship as both are poised on the cusp of adulthood.

The truth was that while I pretended to myself that being gay was no big deal, words like pervert, abnormal, sick rattled around in my psyche. Plus everyone said it would ruin your prospects in life, but that didn’t bother me much, I mean it wasn’t like I was planning to run for Congress or play for the Yankees—in fact, being an outsider was my favorite part about being gay. [8:69]

As Arthur struggles with his sexuality, he also becomes a Holden Caulfield-like figure—a protector to Katrina, who is pulled down by the heart-breaking secrets and sorrows of her past. The scene in which Arthur speaks to the shrink about helping Katrina rather than his homosexuality is both funny and touching. Although a classmate constantly taunts him with a masculine sexuality that is deprived o affection, his coming to terms of his sexuality is rather downplayed in the novel.

Part of me was thrilled but I was also sad—Katrina was going to have a big-time life and I doubted there would be much room in it for her nerdy little high-school best-friend-du-jour . . . She had chosen me to be her friend because I was easy, needy, and available. I was eminently replaceable. [25:182]

The Hour Between is about friendship and self-discovery in the age of early adulthood. It reinforces the stereotypical rich kid behavior: boozing, doing drugs, spending huge money, spinning out of control. Thankfully it does not steer into a continuous trance of debaucheries that reminds me of Less Than Zero.

248 pp. [Read/Skim/Toss] [Buy/Borrow]