With this portrait of a closeted gay movie star's live-in lover, Jeremy Thrane
ventures into a largely unexplored subcontinent of literature: the lives and times of hangers-on. Jeremy is 35, unemployed, working on novel, and living in a fabulous townhouse in Gramercy Park. For his entire adult life, he has been discreetly provided for by Ted Masterson, an action-movie star married to an equally famous actress. The novel hinges on a question best phrased metaphorically: What happens when Kato gets booted from the guesthouse? In the opening pages, Ted throws his sexual sidekick out on his ear, and Jeremy finds himself in the unenviable position of learning to create a life in his mid-30s. (It's sort of like a gender-swapping version of those novels, epidemic in the 1970s, about unfulfilled wives who head off to find themselves.)
Jeremy realizes he hasn't really noticed the passing of time, and discovers to his shock that he's not the boy he used to be: "Now, on what I was dismayed to learn was the cusp of early middle age, my hair was graying just a little at the temples, my muscles were softening somewhat, and my whole body had widened slightly, had taken on a new maturity that I didn't entirely dislike, but wasn't thrilled with either, because who would be?" The novel follows Jeremy's gentle adventures as he looks for love, an apartment, a job, and a little companionship. This is a grungy, funny Manhattan fable of walk-ups and poisonous ambitions, of family ties and two-faced friends. Kate Christensen brings to Jeremy's story the same mordant wit and social satire that made her first novel, In the Drink, a cult favorite. This one reads like a roman à clef, but probably isn't, which is a compliment to the novel's comical and uncanny verisimilitude. --Claire Dederer
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From Publishers Weekly
Two years after her well-received debut, Christensen (In the Drink) delivers a knockout sophomore effort, once again set against the backdrop of a glitteringly grungy downtown Manhattan. As the novel begins, 35-year-old pretty boy Jeremy Thrane lives in the top -floor apartment of a gorgeous Gramercy Park townhouse otherwise inhabited by Hollywood star Ted Masterson, Ted's even hotter actress wife and their adopted daughter. Jeremy, long Ted's secret lover, has been employed as the actor's "archivist" for years, but his free ride is about to come to an end. Unceremoniously dumped by the media-wary Ted, Jeremy must abandon his apartment and take a thankless nine-to-five job; on the bright side, he is finally inspired to finish his decade-in-the-making novel, a revenge fantasy based on the life of his deadbeat Marxist father. Christensen corrals a flawed cast of characters with a sure and compassionate hand, among them Jeremy's mother, a successful poet; his sister, a junior rock star; his best friend, a chic artist addicted to heroin; and a physically repellent gay-porn editor who has been in love with Jeremy since high school. Chistensen's sumptuous prose is both wicked and wise, resulting in a smart, sassy urban tale. Her wit is as acerbic as ever, but the laugh-out-loud humor of her first novel has been exchanged for something darker and more provocative. Young, hip readers will be pleased by this stylish endeavor and will agree that Christensen is establishing herself as an edgy chronicler of the Naked City and its struggling inhabitants. (Aug.) Forecast: The 20- and 30-something fans Christensen picked up with In the Drink will adore her savvy, satiric latest, and get a chance to collect autographs on her three-city author tour.
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