Gabriel Noone is a middle-aged author whose world seems to be crumbling around him. At one minute, he was happily married to his partner Jess, writing and reading his work on National Public Radio with his show Noone at Night, and living the gay dream in his perfect house in San Francisco.
The next thing he knew, his partner decided that he “needed some time alone”, he suffered from a severe case of writer’s block, couldn’t record his show on NPR, and his world seemed to be falling apart at the seams. Then someone came into his life. After reading the manuscript of a young boy sent to him by a New York publisher, he gets a call from the publisher asking if he would write a blurb (a recommendation) for the soon to be published book. The book takes Gabriel’s breath away. The memoir is about a boy named Pete who was sexually abused by his parents and sold into sex slavery to the highest bidder his entire childhood. One day he escaped, took evidence of his abuse in the form of videos made by his parents, and went to the police. He was finally rescued, his parents were arrested and convicted, and the child psychiatrist investigating his case adopted him. The ordeal left him a shell of a human, HIV+ and later with full-blown AIDS. The publisher informs Gabriel that the boy adores and worships him and wants to contact him. Before long, Gabriel is in touch with the boy’s adoptive mother and soon Pete himself. They develop a strong relationship quickly and before long Pete tells Gabriel that he feels like he is the father that he never had.
At a time in Gabriel’s life where nothing is going the way it should, this is a godsend – until his estranged partner Jess informs him of a theory he has. The boy’s mother and Pete are the same person. Gabriel’s mind goes crazy at the thought. He’s never talked to them both at the same time, their voices do sound strikingly familiar, and after a few calls he realizes that no one has ever actually seen the boy. Gabriel doesn’t know what to believe and begins doubting everything that he has believed in the recent months. The next few weeks find Gabriel on an adventure with an outcome and ending very shocking and amazing.
The Night Listener is a unique and interesting story. The book has been around for several years but was recently brought back into the limelight (and a snazzy new paperback edition) with the release of the movie starring Robin Williams. Do yourself a favor and read the book – it’s a good one!
“The Night Listener” is available in paperback at local bookstores, online and at your local library.
The Night Listener
By Armistead Maupin
Harper Perennial, 342 pp., $14.95