cover image Brian in Three Seasons

Brian in Three Seasons

Robert Wintner, Patricia Grossman, . . Permanent, $26 (224pp) ISBN 978-1-57962-122-3

Brian Moss is the urban gay everyman. Nearing 40 in 1995, when Grossman's nicely nuanced but somewhat pat fourth novel (after Unexpected Child ) is set, Brian has settled for sex with strangers. His incomplete dissertation on painter Toulouse-Lautrec haunts him. He toils four night a week as a friendly bartender and one day a week as a frustrated art history instructor, career paths that disappoint his hard-driving land developer father, who is recovering from a mild stroke. His drift also disturbs his critically doting, loving twin sister, who followed their father into the real estate business. In general, it's an unsettled autumn for Brian—plus, a man who romanced him has been seeing a psychologist about going straight. Winter is a season of real discontent: his father suffers a more debilitating stroke and then dies, though not before father and son achieve an emotional reconciliation; his college gig is in jeopardy; a co-worker's lover is diagnosed with cocktail-resistant HIV; and his putative boyfriend disappears. All's well come spring, however: his boyfriend has returned; his co-worker's lover is on the mend; he's offered the position of humanities dean at his college; and he inherits a portion of his father's sizable estate. Grossman's happily-ever-after plot is predictable, but the novel is redeemed by an engrossing cast of secondary characters. (Oct.)