Cover image for The greenhouse effect
The greenhouse effect
Swanson, Eric.
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Boston : Little, Brown, [1990]

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Booklist Review

Actor Swanson's first novel, rife with dialogue, sketchy on scenery, feels like a "vehicle" written for himself. The first chapter's a teaser: young, gay, Manhattanite actor has afternoon sex with a teenager who tells him that "doing what you want" is important and, furthermore, "do it all the time." Our no-name hero, who tries to do damned little, doesn't think he does what he wants. The rest of the book is about his re-encounter with once-bosom friend Kate, from the big party at which he runs into her through a Long Island weekend with several couples she knows. The climax comes when No-name rushes to defend Heidi, who, accosting her husband, gets socked for her pains, as does No-name for his. It seems No-name's finally done what he wanted--stood up for a beaten wife like his mother was. His story may not amount to all that much, but like him, it's very credible. A gay Woody Allen in an Ingmar Bergman mood might make a good little movie out of it. --Ray Olson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Like Bright Lights, Big City , this debut novel focuses on an unnamed man in his 20s or 30s struggling to survive the swirl of Manhattan life and honestly confront himself. Swanson's narrator, less witty and more cynical than McInerney's, is a homosexual actor who, during the stiflingly hot summer of 1988, is driven to examine his sexuality and general unhappiness amid an emotional haze aggravated by alcohol, cigarettes and high temperatures. Aside from complaints of profuse sweating and difficulty with breathing, the narrator's angst is too unfocused and intangible to command much sympathy: ``Whatever I tried would always come down to the same damn thing; whatever I wanted would always end up the same damn way.'' His most profound philosophical contributions are that ``we're about truth'' and ``we're running from death.'' Such post-adolescent whining might be excused for the sake of a substantial message. But a novel that, despite the central role of homosexuality, makes only one--very indirect--reference to AIDS and, despite its title, uses global warming as a mere metaphor, probably cannot lay claim to any higher purpose. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved