Safe as Houses

Alex Jeffers, Author
Alex Jeffers, Author Faber & Faber $24.95 (364p) ISBN 978-0-571-19860-3
Paperback - 364 pages - 978-0-85449-253-4
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-59021-123-6
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The title of Jeffers's first novel underscores the fragile attempt of its protagonist, Allen Pasztory, a gay admissions officer at a Rhode Island prep school, to make a home for himself, his lover, Jeremy Kent, Allen's nephew and Jeremy's son. A hearing child of deaf parents, Allen enjoyed comfort and seclusion in his early family life, an experience that he tries to re-establish in the new family he is creating. His family's history is related somewhat self-consciously: ``These are stories my father never told me,'' begins the chapter on his Hungarian immigrant parents' experiences at a repressive school for the deaf. Tracking the development of Allen's family and the one he's trying to establish with Jeremy and the two boys, Jeffers draws parallels between deafness and homosexuality but fails to forge a convincing link. Despite his perceptive prose, Jeffers skirts his characters' hopes and the paradoxes of their lives rather than risking a fuller exploration of the tenuous safety that they find in love. (Mar.)
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