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War Against the Animals
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About the Author

Paul Russell is the author of five award-winning novels, including The Coming Storm and Sea of Tranquillity. He is a professor at Vassar College and lives in upstate New York.

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Cameron Barnes, a middle-aged gay landscape architect living outside a small town in the shadow of the Catskills, hires brothers Kyle and Jesse Vanderhof to renovate his gardening shed. Recovering from the end of a long relationship and struggling with AIDS, Cameron finds himself staring longingly at the young Jesse. Eager to take advantage financially of Cameron's interest in Jesse, homophobic Kyle coerces his younger brother into befriending the gay man. Jesse's sexual confusion (including his guilt over having been sexually exploited as a teenager), his lack of interest in his girlfriend, and his physical attraction to Kyle is exposed as his friendship with Cameron grows. Jesse's inner conflicts mirror tensions in the town of Stone Hollow itself, as its traditions are challenged by an influx of gay residents and by the mayoral campaign of Max Greenblatt, Cameron's oldest gay friend. In his fifth novel, Russell (The Salt Point) successfully reworks his familiar themes of homosexual coming of age, intergenerational relationships, and sexually charged violence. Given its strong character development, fine writing, compelling plot, and riveting climax, this novel will have crossover appeal beyond a gay readership. Recommended for larger fiction collections.-Joseph M. Eagan, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Russell (The Coming Storm, etc.) eloquently explores the divide between gay and straight culture in his latest novel, a thoughtful, provocative study of an attraction that develops between an upscale, retired garden designer who is HIV-positive and a young redneck in a fast-changing upstate New York community. Cameron Barnes is the Manhattan transplant who thinks his love life is over after surviving the barrage of illnesses that come with full-blown AIDS, but Barnes's quiet, idyllic life in Stone Hollow is disrupted when he hires a pair of young brothers, Kyle and Jesse Vanderhof, to fix his dilapidated barn. Initially, Barnes has little contact with the brothers, but a strange attraction slowly develops between the former landscaper and Jesse, who is more sensitive and open-minded than his crude older brother. The backdrop for the romance is a struggle to control the town and its values, filtered through the prism of a mayoral election in which the leader of the powerful Vanderhof clan, Roy, battles a close friend of Cameron's named Max Greenblatt, who represents the interests of the rapidly growing liberal gay community. Russell is a patient, masterful narrator, dexterously alternating scenes featuring Cameron and his gay friends, Jesse grappling with his sexuality and Jesse's controlling brother's scheme to extract money from Cameron. In the hands of a lesser writer, this might have been a clumsy, obvious book, but Russell's compassionate, insightful prose illuminates the differences that help define us under the umbrella of community as well as the sparks that fly when boundaries are violated. Agent, Harvey Klinger. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

"In the hands of a lesser writer, this might have been a clumsy, obvious book, but Russell's compassionate, insightful prose illuminates the differences that help define us under the umbrella of community as well as the sparks that fly when boundaries are violated." - Publishers Weekly

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