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Jack Of Hearts Hardcover – Oct 8 1997

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton (Oct. 8 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525939245
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525939245
  • Product Dimensions: 50.8 x 50.8 x 50.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,471,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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 Booklist

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa1991cd8) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1c363fc) out of 5 stars A cut above the average coming of age tale Feb. 5 2005
By greyhound1954 - Published on
Format: Paperback
I'm not big on mystery stories, so I've never bothered with Hansen's Brandstetter series. But in crafting Jack of Hearts, Hansen is responsible for one of the best coming-of-age tales of a gay youth. The writing is first-rate, with a well-developed central character and story line. The realism of Nathan Reed makes him the kind of reluctant hero most authors unsuccessfully strive to create. I've read scads of coming-of-age books and Jack of Hearts is head and shoulders above most of them. It's too bad most high school kids will never discover this book. The sequel, Living Upstairs, doesn't have the same impact, but is worth reading for those who want more of Nathan Reed.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa23d918c) out of 5 stars Although not a terrible read I found 'Jack of Hearts' to be very ... Dec 3 2014
By lazza - Published on
Format: Hardcover
'Jack of Hearts' is a story about a eager teenager in 1941 emerging out of high school and interacting with a wide variety of characters in a theatre troupe, plus some dealings with early Nazi hater. And since this is a book by Joseph Hansen we soon learn this kid has gay tendencies. Although not a terrible read I found 'Jack of Hearts' to be very lacking. The characterizations were meh, especially the lead character, and the story wasn't believable at all. The author doesn't do anything to transport the reader back in time to 1940s southern California. No keen observations were shared, which is a shame.

Bottom line: a book with fine premise and potential falls flat by weak writing. Not recommended.

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