In this brilliant literary mosaic centered around a love affair, acclaimed novelist Joseph Olshan explores the intense pressures and passions of gay life in New York City during the AIDS epidemic
Ten years ago, Will Kaplan and his lover went for a night swim in the Pacific Ocean—but only Will emerged. In the decade that followed, Will relocated to the other end of the continent, filling his days with shallow and pointless affairs, unable to come to terms with the bizarre disappearance that could have been a tragic drowning, a well-planned abandonment, or both. While immersing himself in New York’s gay bar and disco scene, and a hedonistic Fire Island culture darkened by the grim specter of AIDS, Will meets Sean Paris, a young man as tortured and damaged by the past as Will himself. Drawn together by mutual doubts, needs, secrets, and obsessions, the intense relationship that they form will make waves in their circles of friends and ex-lovers, transforming Will’s life forever.
Intensely personal and infused with a rare degree of immediacy, Olshan's ( Clara's Heart ) first venture into gay-themed fiction succeeds on several levels. A dramatic death brings Sean Paris into the life of narrator Will Kaplan, who is still haunted by the disappearance 10 years earlier of his lover. Was Chad struck down by a ship during one of the duo's frequent nocturnal swims off the California coast, or did he purposefully vanish from Will's existence? Hampered by Will's obsession with Chad (and lingering attachment to ex-lover Greg) and by Sean's harmful concealment of parts of his own past, the two can only skirt the edges of involvement. What might initially appear a protracted game of musical beds, however, has deeper undercurrents, as the novel's beautifully etched characters explore the themes of longing and loss. With the constant fear of AIDS looming over its vivid Manhattan setting, Olshan's story spins out through flashbacks within flashbacks--indeed, nearly all of the novel is one long remembrance . In consequence, the plot occasionally becomes difficult to follow, but readers who navigate these waters will be richly rewarded.