Summary and book reviews of The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin

The Night Listener

By Armistead Maupin

The Night Listener
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2000,
    192 pages.
    Paperback: Oct 2001,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

Here is the much-anticipated new work from one of America's literary icons--a gripping novel of suspense that explores the boundaries of the human heart.

Gabriel Noone is a teller of tales, a writer whose cult-hit radio serial "Noone at Night" brought him into the homes of millions, including an ailing 13-year-old boy named Pete Lomax. Meeting through extraordinary circumstances, Noone develops a remarkable friendship with Pete, a connection that evolves into a profound mystery that will blur the lines between truth and illusion, and lead Noone to confront all of his relationships--familial, romantic, and erotic--knowledge that will alter his perception of himself and his life forever.

The Night Listener is Armistead Maupin's most ambitious and daringly imaginative novel, a tale that will challenge and move his many fans as never before.<

Chapter One
Jewelling The Elephant

I know how it sounds when I call him my son. There's something a little precious about it, a little too wishful to be taken seriously. I've noticed the looks on people's faces, those dim, indulgent smiles that vanish in a heartbeat. It's easy enough to see how they've pegged me: an unfulfilled man on the shady side of fifty, making a last grasp at fatherhood with somebody else's child. That's not the way it is. Frankly, I've never wanted a kid. Never once believed that nature's whim had robbed me of my manly destiny. Pete and I were an accident, pure and simple, a collision of kindred spirits that had nothing to do with paternal urges, latent or otherwise. That much I can tell you for sure.

Son isn't the right word, of course.

Just the only one big enough to describe what happened.

I'm a fabulist by trade, so be forewarned: I've spent years looting my life for fiction. Like a magpie, I save the shiny stuff and discard the rest; it's ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction
The narrator of The Night Listener is Gabriel Noone, a late-night radio storyteller who has risen to national fame in San Francisco. Having just separated from his lover of ten years, Noone is adrift in pain and confusion when he receives unexpected comfort from a thirteen-year-old fan in Wisconsin. Pete Lomax, a gifted writer himself, has somehow survived--and skillfully recorded--a life of unimaginable abuse. Wise beyond his years, he becomes a sort of surrogate son to the storyteller through a series of long distance phone calls. But, just as the clouds begin to part for Gabriel, a question arises that casts doubt upon the very existence of this miracle child. Desperate for the truth, Gabriel begins an odyssey that will ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
Times Literary Supplement

A consummate entertainer...It is Maupin's Dickensian gift to be able to render love convincingly...He works his dialogue with a jeweler's precision and a playwright's development of dramatic irony.

Kirkus Reviews

A touching but rather facile meditation on the way artists manipulate facts in their quest for truth, by the author of Maybe the Moon (1992) and the popular Tales of the City series.

Publishers Weekly

As in his earlier works, reading Maupin's prose is like meeting up with a beloved old friend; it's an easy, uncomplicated encounter filled with warmth, wisdom and familiar touches of humor. But there's pathos here as well, and sharp-edged drama with a few hairpin turns.

Booklist

Maupin's squeaky clean style, seductive sentimentality, and gift for disarming patter make for a most appealing read, a kind of, not magic realism, but pretty, magical melodrama.

Vanity Fair

The long awaited new novel by the irresistible Armistead Maupin--the writer with the map of the human heart tattooed on his brain.

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