While the movie version of The Night Listener certainly didn't set any box office records, for this listener the audio rates high largely because of the affecting narration provided by author Armistead Maupin. This is a poignant story of a man who feels lost and unloved, and Maupin reads it with insight, illuminating the fears and doubts that possess protagonist Gabriel Noone.
Gabriel comes to life at night - he's a Manhattan based late hours radio host, Noone At Night. He's also a gay man who has broken up with his partner, Jess. After finding himself evidently free of the AIDS virus Jess wants more in life than he is finding with Gabriel. While Gabriel only wanted Jess. Especially vulnerable due to an abusive father who publicly ridiculed him and would never recognize his homosexuality, Gabriel is depressed and feels useless.
He seeks to assuage that feeling by connecting with a young fan, Pete Lomax, who lives in Wisconsin. Pete has suffered as much or more than Gabriel at the hands of physically abusive parents, and now in a struggle with AIDS. The two, Gabriel and Pete, quickly develop a warm, supportive father/son relationship all by telephone. Gabriel, of course, again feels needed.
Eventually, Gabriel decides to go to Wisconsin to see Pete. What he finds there is totally unexpected.
Those who enjoyed Tales of the City will once again find themselves enthralled by Maupin's prose. His voice is icing on the cake.
- Gail Cooke