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In his evocative and mesmerizing debut novel, Lee Houck depicts a contemporary Manhattan thrumming with sex and violence as seen through the eyes of Simon-a twenty-something part-time hustler with a cadre of loyal, sometimes floundering friends. As Simon grows increasingly involved with a gorgeous, guileless client named Aiden, he tries to navigate a path to fulfillment in a city where love and honesty are as dangerous as they are rare. Witty, spare, and rapier-sharp, this is an exceptional story of the friendships that sustain us, the families we create, and the pain and joy that are always within reach, waiting for us to yield
newspapers has something about a “gay bashing” on the front page, one mentions a “possible hate crime,” another mentions nothing. I don’t want to hear the details. When I get to the Laundromat there is a short Mexican woman washing the tops of the machines with a rag and talking on the phone. She’s chatting with whoever about whatever in a language that’s all vowels, lugging a heavy cart of wet clothes behind her, rolling it through the aisles. Mr. Laundry is here, and he isn’t supposed to be.
and built sports facilities on top of them. Something like three ice rinks, batting cages, bowling, roller-skating, tons of stuff. It’s mostly hell—notoriously a place for straight people to go on dates, which is miserable to watch. (No wonder straight women are unhappy, look what they have to put up with. Look what they have to choose from.) But the driving range is pure heaven. It’s one of those giant, stacked-on-top-of-each-other driving ranges, like you’d see in Japan, or somewhere equally
getting his rocks off, or if he’s making small talk. “You know, same old stuff.” I say something that means nothing. “Of course,” he says. “Same old everyday.” “You got it.” “Because since we talked last, I thought of another story that might help a young person.” He pushes the cart past me, an offensive move that means if I’m going to hear this story, if I’m going to get my hundred bucks, I’m going to have to run after him. Behind him the air smells of lavender. I walk quickly along,
as a pride event if they want anybody to come.” I say, “With a big stage and dancers.” Farmer says, “Open bar and corporate sponsors.” Jaron says, “I read somewhere that gay people are the most brand-conscious demographic in the world.” Louis does the “gag-me” thing with his finger. Chapter Twenty-one What do you pack for a place you’ve never been to? All afternoon I’ve watched the rain from my window, the women with plastic bonnets running in and out of the drugstore buying light bulbs at
glistening pink hand comes sliding through. But this time it’s different. The wind is quiet, the charred sugar smell is gone. The hand seems healthy, even tender. The fingers curl up into a fist, and the hand gives me—I’m not even fucking kidding—a solid, unmistakable thumbs-up. I watch the hand, floating there in the air before it disappears quietly, slipping back into the invisible world on the other side of the sky. Now I’m awake, aware of my body changing from one state to another. I open