Books: The Night Listener

By Armistead Maupin

By "I'm a fabulist by trade...This makes me less than reliable when it comes to the facts," cautions Gabriel Noone at the outset of this tale. His caveat is easily forgotten as Maupin spins the engaging story of Noone's paternalistic telephone relationship with the 13-year-old Pete Lomax, a fan of the prettified autobiographical stories the elder man relates on his radio show. Halfway through the book, however, Noone's warning re-emerges, and the story becomes both a mystery and a meditation on the mutability of identity, with a conclusion that proves frustrating and gimmicky.

--By Michele Orecklin

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