cover image The Future Won’t Be Long

The Future Won’t Be Long

Jarett Kobek. Viking, $27 (416p) ISBN 978-0-7352-2248-9

Set primarily in Manhattan in the tumultuous decade spanning the years 1986 to 1996, this picaresque novel refracts the coming of age of its two main characters through their alternating narrative viewpoints and the events and personalities that defined the city at that time. Baby is a recently orphaned young gay man fresh off the bus from Wisconsin. Adeline is an art student estranged from her wealthy mother. When circumstances bring them together, Baby moves into Adeline’s apartment, and the two embark on a whirlwind spree through the East Village, the downtown club scene and its drug culture, and events like the Tompkins Square Park Riots, the AIDS epidemic, and the first bombing of the World Trade Center. Along the way, Baby nurtures his nascent talent for science fiction writing and Adeline graduates to become a successful commercial artist. Kobek (I Hate the Internet) has a great eye for detail, and his descriptions of his characters’ peregrinations through New York’s neighborhoods and nightlife read with the authenticity of genuine experience. Punctuated with gentle humor and awash with genuine fondness for its characters, this novel breezes giddily through the disorder and shifting landscape of their lives, bearing out Baby’s contention that “Good or ill, there’s always change coming.” (Aug.)