Jack Holmes is suffering from unrequited love. It doesn't look as if there will ever be anyone else he falls for: the other men he takes to bed never stay for long.
Jack's friend Will Wright comes from old stock, has aspirations to be a writer and, like Jack, works on the Northern Review. Jack will introduce Will to the beautiful, brittle young woman he will marry, but is discreet about his own adventures in love - for this is sixties New York, literary and intense, before gay liberation; a concoction of old society, bohemians rich and poor, sleek European immigrants and transplanted Midwesterners. Against this charged backdrop, the different lives of Jack and Will intertwine, and as their loves come and go, they will always be, at the very least, friends.
In his latest novel, National Book Critics Circle award winner White (Genet: A Life) presents Jack Holmes, an unambitious editorial assistant at a cultural journal and Midwestern WASP who is initially conflicted by homosexuality and an unrequited fascination with co-worker Will Wright, a Catholic blueblood and aspiring novelist. White leaves little room to empathize with either character as they separately wind through frank sexual encounters during the 60s and 70s; their ambivalent relationship, which is eventually marked by collusion over adultery, emerges as one of self-centered though occasionally tender intentions. A plot that glosses over several intervening years to narrate from Will s perspective in the second part and later returns to Jack in the third culminates in a mention of GRID (a protonym for AIDS) a moment that serves more as a device to lead both men out of their libertine behavior within the span of a few sentences than as an historic, serious event worthy of reflection best-suited for fans of White s previous work, as well as readers intrigued by complex friendships.