From Publishers Weekly
Readers who became acquainted with Nathan Reed in Living Upstairs will be pleased to encounter him again in this new work, set in California in 1941, two years prior to the events in the previous novel. The gay would-be writer is here 17-and in his own words, "a nobody high school kid with a secondhand typewriter, a hundred sheets of blank dime-store paper, and voices in his head." His literary aspirations prompt him to join the staff of a local college newspaper, which in turn draws him into a group of thespians starting up a theater. Several opening nights, in fact, figure into Hansen's many story lines, which include a police scandal, rumors of Nazis and an attempted murder. His brief, well-paced scenes are fueled by abundant dialogue and lean, unsentimental prose. The multiplicity of characters is handled skillfully, though many are only lightly sketched. (Nathan's parents-an unemployed musician and a fortune-teller-come off as quirky and borderline cartoonish.) Hansen's readers may be disappointed that the gay California subculture is not as keenly detailed here as in Living Upstairs. Nathan's gay awakening is driven more by plot than by psychological or sexual exploration, but Hansen sagely keeps his attractive protagonist, the object of lust from characters of both sexes, full of self-doubt about his identity.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the author of the popular mystery series featuring gay sleuth David Brandstetter now comes this prequel to Hansen's nonmystery novel, Living Upstairs
. The previous novel saw young aspiring novelist Nathan and his lover, Hoyt, attempting to solve a murder in 1940s California. Jack of Hearts
is set a few years earlier as 17-year-old Nathan attends junior college in his hometown, gets involved not only on the school paper but also with a local theater group, bears the ultimate responsibility for keeping the household together with a nonworking musician father and a fortune-telling mother, and comes to terms with his homosexuality. This is a warm, tenderhearted coming-of-age novel, not a maudlin one. Nathan is endearing but real; he's heroic in his own way but not squeaky-clean. A fine addition to gay literature, but it will appeal to anyone partial to fiction that is well paced and offers characters worth caring about. Brad Hooper