Passed my pal Tim Murphy on the street this weekend in Chelsea, who must be over the moon today with what Publishers Weekly has to say about his new novel!
Murphy’s (The Breeders Box) vivid account of the AIDS crisis and its aftermath centers on the venerable Christodora, a 16-story apartment building in New York’s East Village. Erected in 1928, the building has gone through as many changes as the neighborhood. Its current tenants include Jared and Milly, an artistic couple, and Mateo, their adopted son. Mateo, also an artist, is a drug addict (first trying heroin in 12th grade), which turns out to be a part of a complicated legacy of other characters: Hector, an early AIDS activist mourning the loss of his lover; Issy, a young woman who contracts AIDS and becomes pregnant; and Milly’s mother, Ava, an AIDS researcher with a history of mental illness. These characters witness the spread of AIDS, its ultimate politicization, and the attempts to first control and then eradicate the disease in the following decades. Mateo and the other surviving characters come together in an environmentally transformed Manhattan in 2021, where they have one final reckoning with the past. Murphy has written The Bonfire of the Vanities for the age of AIDS, using the same reportorial skills as Tom Wolfe to re-create the changing decades, complete with a pitch-perfect deployment of period detail. Skipping back and forth in time over 40 years, and projecting itself into the near future, the novel achieves a powerful evocation of the plague years. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House. (Aug.)