Four Squares

What a journey older gay men have had to navigate since the 1980s, from the horror of AIDS to the absent friends and lovers who will forever define later life. That heartbreaking reality is at the center of Four Squares, a sweetly melancholy novel by Bobby Finger (The Old Place). Finger's narrative toggles between two eras in the life of Artie Anderson. In the 1990s, 30-year-old Artie writes taglines ("Cookie Squares. They're anything but.") for a New York ad agency when he'd rather write fiction, a dream he realizes with his novel, Four Squares. He spends evenings at Julius', the legendary Greenwich Village gay bar, with friends Adam and Kimberly, both of whom are shocked by the "dumb, soul-crushing luck" that has kept them from dying of AIDS. At the bar, Artie meets Abe, an elegant lawyer. They begin an on-and-off relationship, even though Abe can't quite bring himself to escape the closet.

By 2022, Abe has long since died. His widow and daughter, the latter of whom Artie is close to, are leaving New York. Artie, who is now a ghostwriter, accepts his agent's advice and volunteers at GALS, a gay and lesbian senior center, where new acquaintances reawaken dormant emotions. Finger does a nice job dramatizing Artie's fear of dying alone, and he movingly describes the terror and prejudice gay men and lesbians faced during the AIDS crisis and beyond. The novel doesn't break new ground, but audiences hungry for a warmhearted story will happily accompany Finger on the journey. --Michael Magras, freelance book reviewer

Powered by: Xtenit