cover image Behind the Moon

Behind the Moon

Hsu-Ming Teo, . . Soho, $13 (372pp) ISBN 978-1-56947-440-2

A trio of "social cripples" meander through their Australian upbringings in Teo's disappointing sophomore novel (after Love and Vertigo ). The social cripples in question are Justin, the gay child of Chinese immigrants; Tien Ho, the bitter out-of-wedlock daughter of a Vietnamese mother and African-American father; and Gibbo, a chubby white Australian who falls in love with Tien's mother. Their story centers on two reunions, a disastrous dinner party following the death of Princess Diana and a more somber gathering at Justin's hospital bed after a gay bashing. Unfortunately, overinflated prose (the characters are said to "lean and groan and cheer each other on... limping along the yellow brick road towards that place where there will be no trouble") and razor-thin characters spoil the narrative's possibilities. (Jan.)