The Gay Bonfire of the Vanities is a lazy shorthand way of describing this book but in all honesty pretty accurate in many regards
The story involves the AIDS crisis of the 80’s and early nineties in the East Village of New York City and clearly the author knows his subject, giving you a well researched but deeply felt picture of those times.
It revolves around a family of artists living in the Cristadora apartment block and their tangled relationships with friends and each other.
From sensitive self involved Millie to her disaffected adopted son Mateo and increasingly estranged husband Jared we get a genuine portrait of the artsy side of New York along with its squalid underbelly, particularly through the life of drug addicted Hector, a one time Cristadora resident that becomes attached to the family history.
In a sense this book is a tribute to all those who suffered and gave their lives to fight a terrible disease, carefully depicting the life and times of people who knew how to live life but paid a heavy price for doing just that.
In conclusion the best New York centered novel I’ve read since Jonathan Lethem’s ‘The Fortress of Solitude’