A wonderfully original tale of the disintegration and mutation of an apparently ordinary American family.--Alison Lurie.
When 30-something novelist Gibson (Shelter) moves to New York from Virginia, he plans to establish himself as a writer, get a day job and enjoy life in the city he's considered "the sunken treasure I'd been diving for my whole life." Instead, as this enigmatic memoir chronicles, he finds a strangely quiet apartment share, struggles to secure a menial job and rarely touches his computer. He barely sees his roommate, John, "who was as pale and waxy and elongated as a candle," whom he meets through a gay roommate service. But one night, Gibson is "bolted awake" by the sound of John coughing: "It sounded like he was being clawed to death from the inside out." Most of the book which, although it gives no specific time references, probably takes place within the past 10 years focuses on Gibson's attempts to help the seriously ill John (he has lung cancer). Using sharp, often witty language, Gibson also expounds on his job at Telesessions, where he facilitates conference calls for doctors; his childhood in the homophobic South; and frequent phone conversations with his friend Jo Ann, who lives in upstate New York. Though Gibson's story has insightful elements, it bogs down occasionally, as when Gibson details his efforts to rescue an obese neighbor from his bathroom. Gibson eventually lands a position teaching writing and searches for a new place to live, relieved to move on, yet aware that sometimes "friends were family, and family were strangers, and you might find yourself helping someone... because you'd been yoked to them by accidents of commerce."