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Publisher's Summary

Few storytellers in America write with such unerring insight and honesty as Armistead Maupin. Now he has given us his most ambitious and daringly imaginative work, The Night Listener, a novel as spoken-word serial, including an original music score. Gabriel Noone is a fabulist, a writer whose late-night radio tales have brought him into the homes of millions. In the midst of a painful, unwanted separation from his longtime love, Gabriel reads the extraordinary memoir of Pete Lomax, an ailing 13-year-old boy who suffered horrific abuse at the hands of his parents. Pete is not only a gifted diarist but also a devoted listener of Gabriel's show. And thus begins an extraordinary phone friendship.
Then, out of the blue, troubling new questions arise, exploding Gabriel's comfortable assumptions and causing his ordered existence to spin wildly out of control. As he walks a vertiginous line between truth and illusion, he is finally forced to confront all his relationships - familial, romantic, and erotic.
This unprecedented audio project is as thought-provoking as it is mesmeric. The Night Listener is a meditation on the power of voices and the faith we place in them, and an extraordinary audio experience from an American literary icon.
©2000 Literary Bent LLC (P)2000 HarperCollins Publishers Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Filled with twists and turns that rival The Sixth Sense and The Crying Game, Maupin's new novel is a deceptively simple page-turner perfectly suited for the audio format....Not only is it a book that listeners will want to discuss with friends, but once finished and all is revealed, it's likely people will want to listen to it again with a fresh ear to hear the clues that have been planted along the way....Audio is the perfect medium for this born storyteller." (Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Naomi on 07-06-03

Wheels within wheels

I almost gave up on Maupin after the bitterness of "Sure of You," but I decided to give the book a try. I'm so very happy that I did! This is classic Maupin in some ways: the bawdy humor, the soft irony, the sharply-drawn characters, some of whom will wring your heart.

The plot device of a story about telling a story, or of a storyteller explaining why he can't tell a story, may seem hackneyed, but in Maupin's hands, it becomes so much more than a cliche.

Maupin is a perfect narrator for this story ... something that you can't say for all authors who record their own audiobooks. DO NOT MISS THIS.

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22 of 24 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Tim on 06-05-05

Unfinished, but still 5 stars

This is a brilliant, complex, touching, entertaining, inspiring and unfinished book. Interestingly, it is also not clear whether it is fact or fiction. I suspect that it is fact, which would also explain why it is so inconclusive: It peters out because the author himself simply doesn't know how it ends.

Of course, that is also the main theme of the book itself: Is what is happening fact or fiction? Is it really happening, or is it just an imagining? Are our lives really happening as we believe them to be happening, or are they something else altogether?

Even so, there is still something unsatisfying about the final product. The characters waver between the two- and three-dimensional and then plump down firmly on the side of the former. This is annoying, because it is amply clear that Maupin has it in him to make them not three- but multi-dimensional.

Somehow I just don't buy the literary artifice of the open ending. I have nothing against open endings, but this one doesn't wash. My suspicion is that Maupin got stuck or bored or bogged down and simply stopped being really committed to the project when he was around two thirds of the way through. This is where the book starts to dissolve and lose its initial promise, and the prose starts to read more like a chore than a pleasure.

I still wanted to give it five stars because of the magnificent way it started, but I finally decided on three for the book we actually have. The five-star book is there, and it is truly stunning, Maupin just needs to sit down and write it. If he wants to, of course...

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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