DO EVERYTHING IN THE DARK
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Malcolm reads Marx's Capital, volume one, with his orange juice; Caroline reads Kierkegaard and ponders string theory; and Jesse, traveling in Istanbul, seduces a string of accommodating hotel waiters, taking careful notes in his journal. Beneath the contemporary excesses Indiana chronicles in this sixth novel (after Depraved Indifference), we can see the outlines of the older New York bohemia captured by Dawn Powell, and a similarly ironic treatment of its denizens. During the course of one summer in New York City, the intermittent first-person narrator, a gallery curator, receives news from his far-flung friends, out of which he builds this shapeless, episodic record of their crises. Caroline and Denise move back to the city from Santa Fe after Caroline, a once promising writer, starts having psychotic hallucinations, draining Denise's affection and bank account. Miles, a playwright living in the country, develops an exaggerated grudge against Tova Finkelstein, a prominent Susan Sontag–like intellectual who convinces Miles's actor friends to abandon his play for a series of Beckett monologues that she is directing. Arthur, a gay producer to whom the narrator loaned some money, has come back from a Spanish island after his lover, the painter Oliver, was ambushed by several friends in an intervention designed to break two of Oliver's nasty habits: drinking and Arthur. Many other aspirants and posers drift through the novel, which, compared to Indiana's earlier work, is surprisingly compassionate and attuned to the inner lives of its characters. There is no shortage of salty observations ("Bruce and Adam used to walk around the neighborhood together, looking inseparable as two vampire bats with their wings intertwined"), but Indiana avoids easy targets and transcends his urge to shock. The result is some of the best prose of his career. (June)