Adams builds to that insight over the course of that long night, and the extended memories of friends and lovers and disappointments that preoccupy Jack as he contemplates how he came to be so alone. The follow-up to Bent, Rode offers Adams ample chance to showcase a feel for motorcycles, night skies, crooked-steep San Francisco streets, and the thrill and terror of sexual outlawry. He’s especially good at pinning down moments between people that list quietly, inexorably toward a discomfiting wrongness.
A book of significant beauty and pain, broken relationships and sexual frankness, Rode’s survey of the events and people that led Jack toward bottoming out also at times proves playfully comic (Jack learns the worst thing a first-time sex worker can say to a prospective john: “My schedule’s wide open at the moment.”) The title promises momentum, but this character study is all about how a man got brought to this point, told with painstaking detail. But readers of impassioned, character-driven fiction that transgresses the polite will find much to relish here.
Takeaway: A penetrating novel of a philosopher/hustler/ex-fireman, reflecting on his life, stranded in San Francisco.
Great for fans of: John Rechy, Nelson Algren.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
"A moving existential novel about personal identity and human connections."