Object of Desire Hardcover – Jul 1 2009
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About the Author
William J. Mann is the critically acclaimed author of Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines, Hollywood’s First Openly Gay Star, as well as The Biograph Girl and the novel The Men from the Boys. He is a contributor to Architectural Digest, The Boston Phoenix, and The Advocate.
Top Customer Reviews
From Danny's childhood in East Harvard to the present, Mann covers Danny in every manifestation, reflecting a man who comes full circle, while standing on the mother side of the divide. Dreams he realizes are not enough to distance himself from the enormity of his failures except of course when he snorted that wonderful magical powder up his nose.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Danny Fortunato's sister disappears on his 14th birthday and Danny's life is changed forever. Cleverly, very cleverly, told in flashbacks to three phases of Danny's life, we learn about his painful, yet surprisingly sexy high school years, to his early years in West Hollywood, to his mid-life years with a husband in Palm Springs. Despite the husband, Danny falls in love with the gorgeous Kelly (if you're reading this you already know that Kelly is a he) and it is here where Mann's book takes a wild right turn. At first, I was unwilling to accept it as simply incredulous, but then the quality of the writing took over and I was hooked once again.
This is a terrific story, beautifully written and compellingly readable.
There are a few minor problems. St. Francis Xavier High School in East Hartford, CT (even fictional) would be a Jesuit school and the principal would be a priest, not a brother. Who cares?
You want to read this book. It will be the highlight of your summer. And, Mr. William J. Mann, bring it on!
From Danny's childhood in East Harvard to the present, Mann covers Danny in every manifestation, reflecting a man who comes full circle, while standing on the mother side of the divide. Dreams he realizes are not enough to distance himself from the enormity of his failures except of course when he snorted that wonderful magical powder up his nose. Mann fully embeds us into Danny's life, his journey to West Hollywood where he's determined to become a famous actor but where he ultimately finds a life dancing in sleazy g*y night clubs, dressed only in a thong, up on his box swinging his slender hips to the music, on the hunt for one sexual thrill after another as he and his colleagues snort lines of coke, "believing that someday he'd be somebody."
Danny's rock is his of love of Frank, now married for 20 years, yet the last four have been a string of silent nights. All this changes on his birthday, when Danny lays eyes on a bartender while drinking one night, the man moving with a determined concentration, his hair almost black, his cheeks covered with carefully clipped dark whispers. Hoping for a chance to speak to him and to peer into his eyes, Danny can no longer deny how hungry he really is. An artist, Kelly, seemed at first to be the personification of innocent youth and Danny is on fire for him to take his staid, stale routine and turn it around, even stand it on its head. Ostensibly meeting to look at his sketches, Kelly's face "stops Danny's breath, his eyes making his heart freeze." Danny realizes that he wants to change Kelly's life, and jumpstart his future for him.
It is Kelly who ultimately challenges Danny in a way that causes him to question his life with Frank, his personal priorities and unquestioning acceptance of the steps that have bought him to this time and place. For the first time in years, through his eyes, Danny realizes his life crisis, aching for the world of sex, for love for life, and the savoring of the necessary fiction of youth. The novel is essentially about a man who comes full circle where the dreams he realizes are not enough to distance himself from the enormity of his failures. Although Danny's present day dilemmas give Object of Desire a feel of immediacy, it is the author's depiction of Danny's past that fuel much of the emotion, that of Danny's furtive attraction to Becky's boyfriend Chipper Paguni and the realization that Peggy never liked his influence on her daughter, and also that of Danny's high school affair with the flame-haired Troy, and the inevitable collapse of his family into drunkenness and failure. Danny remains haunted by the fact that he's never told his mother what he had seen the morning of Becky's disappearance. He knew that Becky was never coming back and that for the rest of his life, he would carry the blame. Although Mann portrays an array of eccentric, believable and multi-faceted characters, that complement Danny's life in both the present and the past, I'm not sure I like Danny's world, from his kind-hearted friends to the phony Palm Springs society elite, who seem content to bleed and then lead-on the like of Danny and his ilk. The novel is often over-written, each melodramatic incident piled on top of the other and in the end Danny himself remains a rather vacuous, painfully pathetic character even as he struggles to find a voice, to reconcile his past and to ultimately remain desirable. Mike Leonard July 09.
Object of Desire was just was just what I was looking for. In it I got my dosage of man on man romance, but the parallel plot of Danny's missing sister, and more importantly his obsessed mother was my favorite of the three ongoing stories. However, I was not spared any of the other goodies one expects in their typical gay novel nor was it trying to pretend to be something it wasn't. Object of Desire was filled with rich characters, intricate plot points, and literary gems. The end is left ambiguous, but I understand it from a literary stand point. I will definitely keep reading from William J. Mann!
Michael Travis Jasper, author of the novel "To Be Chosen"
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