Set in New York in the closing months of 1999, E. Lynn Harris's tightly plotted Not a Day Goes By
bears all the outward markers of a romance by Danielle Steel or Jackie Collins--wealth, glamour, sex, and intrigue--except that the two main characters are more like the wily villains of a Dynasty
remake. John "Basil" Henderson, a former football player who has started a successful sports agency with a friend, is a gorgeous, arrogant, bitter, woman-hating, homophobic, African American bisexual who is used to people staring at him. "Especially when I was naked," Basil confides, "My ass was perfect and my jimmie was both long and thick." Basil has fallen in love with an equally alluring figure, Yancey Braxton, a bronze-skinned Broadway singer whose beauty and dedication are matched by ferocious self-absorption and cunning. (Instead of attending her 10-year high school reunion, Yancey sent signed photos of herself and press packets.) Basil feels that his love has rescued him from the shallow life of a player, and he allows himself to believe that she is a good person, and that when they marry, she'll settle down a little and provide him with children. Yancey cares for Basil, too, but her career comes first. After that, sex and money. Babies aren't even on the list.
Harris's most sympathetic characters are Yancey's roommate, Windsor, a plump schoolteacher who spends her spare evenings holding abandoned babies at Hale House, and Zurich Robinson, a gay Christian ex-athlete who briefly considers joining Basil's agency, eliciting a string of ugly clichés from Basil's partner. Meanwhile, Basil, that pillar of integrity, listens in silence. The deal is scotched when Zurich announces that he has been interviewed for an article on gay men in professional athletics. When Basil asks him why he is coming out, Zurich tells him about another young quarterback who tried to run from his sexuality by getting married. The day of the wedding, he shot himself. "As Zurich told the story," Basil recounts,
I could picture the young man and for a brief moment felt the pain he was struggling with. I had been there. But it had never gotten to the point where I wanted to kill myself. If I could have talked to Milo I would have told him, "Roll with it young brother.... There is a way to have your cake and ice cream, too."
Suffice it to say that after a series of delicious plot twists and acts of increasing wickedness, it becomes clear that Basil and Yancey are too damaged to save each other. Although the characters in his sixth novel are somewhat two dimensional and his prose a little flat, E. Lynn Harris can manipulate a story line with the skill of an Eagle Scout earning his badge in knotmaking. Don't start this page-turner if you don't have six or seven free hours in which to read it straight through. --Regina Marler
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From Publishers Weekly
Following a string of bestselling novels featuring plots that mix romance, deception, betrayal and bisexuality, Harris (If This World Were Mine; Abide with Me) scores again with the much-anticipated return of two of his most popular characters. When John "Basil" Henderson, ex-football player and sports agent on the rise, falls in love with haughty, ambitious Broadway star Yancey Harrington Braxton, it seems like a perfect match. But on the couple's wedding day, which opens the book, the extravagant nuptials are suddenly canceled. The narrative retraces the couple's rocky courtship: Yancey arrives in Basil's life at a critical moment, when his football career is over and he's in therapy examining his bisexual past. He's entranced by gorgeous, stylish Yancey, especially because she looks so good on his arm, but though he feels true admiration and love, Basil also still pines for men. Determined to marry, have children, and keep his homosexual proclivities a secret, Basil doesn't realize that Yancey has a few secrets of her own. Her one true love from her college days reappears, with some scandalous news. When Yancey discovers Basil's "other side," she is horrifiedDbut she quickly concocts a scheme to lay claim to Basil's riches. As usual with Harris, the romance is set within the lavish trappings of the Good Life: upscale vacations, lushly decorated homes, pricey designer duds. Harris has a ball with femme fatale Yancey, who chases film and TV roles with a relentless campaign of lies, party crashing and tantrums. With lean prose and witty dialogue, he brings some new notes, trills and riffs to his familiar song, and his patented knack for a wry, uproarious resolution is in full flower in this sexual War of the Roses. (Aug.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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