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Grief

Image of Grief
In an age of big novels with big themes - here's looking at you, Freedom - it's refreshing to spend some time with an understated but moving work.

In Grief , a loney, gay professor comes to Washington, D.C. following the death of his mother. That's basically the plot, but Andrew Holleran writes beautifully, incorporating the architectural elements of D.C. with the letters from Mary Todd Lincoln as his protagonist tries to rebuild his life. By narrowing his focus, each character becomes fully developed, whether it's the professor's friend Frank, or his landlord, or even the landlord's dog. It's even occasionally wry, i.e. "when I got back to  he house I did what people often do who have not had sex - ate something sweet."

What I loved best about it are the conversations between the professor and Frank, whether they are discussing AIDS and gay life in D.C. or their anxieties. At one point, Frank muses, "I must be special - to one person. Otherwsie, frankly, I don't see the point. I've felt that way ever since my mother died. When your parents die, you know, your audience is gone." There's a lot of moments like this, where you actually stop reading and think "hmmm."

It's an excellent piece of fiction, and one that I would recommend for book clubs, those who live in D.C., or just those who want to try something different.