Archive for April, 2020

Real Life

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

By Brandon Taylor

The Short Take:

This book was an emotionally tough read. A young, gay Black man from the South studies biochem at a Midwest college. He maintains an emotional distance, even from his friends, whose casual racism occasionally jolts him. It’s a significant book but not for everyone.

Why?

This book is gut wrenching. You feel the universe of angst and wariness protagonist Wallace always carries, exposed through the events of a single weekend. Introspective by nature, and remote due to his unhappy childhood, he typically doesn’t spend much time with his lab mate friends. But this weekend he does and it creates a whole new level of self awareness.

He wonders aloud if seeking this masters degree is just a way of avoiding “real life.” That one out loud observation sets off a chain of interactions that raises more questions.

Taylor (who is also gay, Black and Southern) offers exquisite prose and detailed observations of the reactions humans display through minuscule expression changes. If you’re looking for plot, step away. If you want a deep, fascinating, character-driven book that leaves you aching–read on.

A Little Plot:

Wallace observes his friends gathered by the lake and decides not to join them when one sees and beckons him. He doesn’t tell them that weeks of work in the lab has been destroyed (sabotage?) but that event is reflected in all his actions over the weekend.

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