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About the blogger:
Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


paperback | Kindle | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


paperback | hardcover (US)
paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


Kindle (US) | Kindle (UK)

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


Kindle | paperback (US)
Kindle | paperback (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



Maupin, Armistead: The Night Listener

  Amazon  

4.5 stars

Armistead Maupin's The Night Listener is based on a true story. Maupin was one of many people who were caught up in a deception in the 1990s: he became acquainted with someone, allegedly a teenager named Anthony Godby Johnson, who claimed to be dying from AIDS after having been systematically raped by his parents and their friends as a child. "Tony" was very believable and reeled in a great many devotees who were appalled by his story and impressed by his pluck. He even published a memoir in 1993, A Rock and a Hard Place: One Boy's Triumphant Story. But, suspiciously, no one was ever allowed to meet Tony, and it was later revealed that Tony's story, and Tony himself, were fabricated by a woman named Vicki Johnson.

In Maupin's fictionalized version of the story, author and radio celebrity Gabriel Noone becomes caught up in a similar scam: he befriends a boy named Pete--similarly abused and dying from AIDS--after reading the galleys of Pete's memoir, sent to him for a blurb by the boy's editor. Gabriel becomes emotionally invested in Pete, who soon starts calling him "dad," and only begins to doubt Pete's story after it's pointed out to him that Pete and his adoptive mother have very similar voices. At the same time as all this is going on, Gabriel is dealing with other problems: his husband of ten years--who himself has AIDS--has moved out, citing the need for "space"; he has run-ins with his father, a Charleston aristocrat whose speech is peppered with racist slurs; his dog is dying. Pete, who is wise beyond his years, serves as a sort of confessor, even after Gabriel begins to question whether Pete is real.

Maupin's writing is sometimes lovely--"countless ponds winking through the birches like pocket mirrors"--and often sexually explicit. The only thing that bothered me about the story was that Pete, who not only deceived people but reeled them in emotionally, was not at all charming in my view. His dialogue would have turned me off rather than made me want more. But since this story actually happened to Maupin, I have to assume that the dialogue is fairly realistic and that it was charming enough: de gustibus. That I finished the book in slightly more than 24 hours is testament to how compelling it was.

In 2007 The Night Listener was made into a movie--which I have yet to see--starring Robin Williams. Anyone who's intrigued by Maupin's story may also want to check out the somewhat controversial 2010 documentary Catfish.

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