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When an editor sends Gabriel yet another book to blurb, he reluctantly opens the package to find a long, rending memoir by Pete Lomax, an HIV-positive 13-year-old survivor of incest, rape, and sexual slavery. The book is called The Blacking Factory, after the miserable London bottling factory where Dickens spent part of his poverty-stricken childhood. As Gabriel reflects:
Pete thinks we all have a blacking factory, some awful moment, early on, when we surrender our childish hearts as surely as we lose our baby teeth. And the outcome can't be called. Some of us end up like Dickens; others like Jeffrey Dahmer. It's not a question of good or evil, Pete believes. Just the random brutality of the universe and our native ability to withstand it.After Pete escaped from his parents and was adopted by a therapist named Donna Lomax, his slow recovery was helped along by his memoir-writing and by frequent doses of "Noone at Night."
Touched by Pete's devotion to his stories, as well as the boy's obvious need for a father figure, Gabriel finds himself drawn into an intense relationship with his young fan, involving long, late-night phone calls that begin to worry Gabriel's friends. And, other than their mutual need, how much does he really know about Pete, anyway? As Gabriel begins to question his own motives, as well as those of the boy, The Night Listener transforms itself from an absorbing but quotidian story of loss and midlife angst into a dark and suspenseful page-turner with a playful metaphysical aspect and an un-Dickensian sexual candor. --Regina Marler --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
This was just an excellent book, so different from what else is out there to read. I recommend this book to anyone (unless you have a real problem with homosexuality). Read morePublished on March 29 2004 by michigan jean
I found this book to be a fun read, but it's not a "masterpiece" or a "triumph." Even by Maupin's "Tale of the City" standards, this is a strangely unsatisfying novel. Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2004 by fml66
*The Night Listener* is gripping from beginning to end. Literally I am glued to the page. Writer and radio storyteller Gabriel Noone just broke up with his partner Jess who battled... Read morePublished on March 11 2003 by Matthew M. Yau
This is Maupin's first work in years, and while it's hard not to suspect autobiographical undercurrents - or surface currents, really - this does not distract from the overall... Read morePublished on Dec 21 2002 by "eabower"
I admit to preferring by far the Armistead Maupin who unravels the antics of Mrs Madrigal and her tenants. Read morePublished on Nov. 12 2002 by Ventura Angelo
The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin
Based on a true-life event that happened to Armistead Maupin, THE NIGHT LISTENER chronicles the unusual relationship of author/radio... Read more
If you want a novel with a straightforward exposition -- the written version of a made-for-TV movie -- then this is NOT the novel for you. Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2002