In this vivid and compelling novel, Tim Murphy follows a diverse set of characters whose fates intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan’s East Village, the Christodora. The Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged young couple with artistic ambitions. Their neighbor, Hector, a Puerto Rican gay man who was once a celebrated AIDS activist but is now a lonely addict, becomes connected to Milly and Jared’s lives in ways none of them can anticipate. Meanwhile, Milly and Jared’s adopted son Mateo grows to see the opportunity for both self-realization and oblivion that New York offers. As the junkies and protestors of the 1980s give way to the hipsters of the 2000s and they, in turn, to the wealthy residents of the crowded, glass-towered city of the 2020s, enormous changes rock the personal lives of Milly and Jared and the constellation of people around them. Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and attempts by activists to galvanize a true response to the AIDS epidemic, to the New York City of the future, Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, illustrates the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life the ever-changing city itself.
Murphy's (The Breeders Box) vivid account of the AIDS crisis and its aftermath centers on the venerable Christodora, a 16-story apartment building in New York's East Village. Erected in 1928, the building has gone through as many changes as the neighborhood. Its current tenants include Jared and Milly, an artistic couple, and Mateo, their adopted son. Mateo, also an artist, is a drug addict (first trying heroin in 12th grade), which turns out to be a part of a complicated legacy of other characters: Hector, an early AIDS activist mourning the loss of his lover; Issy, a young woman who contracts AIDS and becomes pregnant; and Milly's mother, Ava, an AIDS researcher with a history of mental illness. These characters witness the spread of AIDS, its ultimate politicization, and the attempts to first control and then eradicate the disease in the following decades. Mateo and the other surviving characters come together in an environmentally transformed Manhattan in 2021, where they have one final reckoning with the past. Murphy has written The Bonfire of the Vanities for the age of AIDS, using the same reportorial skills as Tom Wolfe to re-create the changing decades, complete with a pitch-perfect deployment of period detail. Skipping back and forth in time over 40 years, and projecting itself into the near future, the novel achieves a powerful evocation of the plague years.
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Simply one of the best!
One of the best I've read...it was not only reading the story...it was an experience....a grand tribute to the city of NYC and the interesting people that calls it home! Great job!