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Real Life

A Novel
Narrated by: Kevin R. Free
Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
Categories: Fiction, Gay & Lesbian
4 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Summary

New York Times Editors' Choice

"A blistering coming of age story" (O: The Oprah Magazine)

A novel of startling intimacy, violence, and mercy among friends in a Midwestern university town, from an electric new voice.

Almost everything about Wallace is at odds with the Midwestern university town where he is working uneasily toward a biochem degree. An introverted young man from Alabama, black and queer, he has left behind his family without escaping the long shadows of his childhood. For reasons of self-preservation, Wallace has enforced a wary distance even within his own circle of friends - some dating each other, some dating women, some feigning straightness. But over the course of a late-summer weekend, a series of confrontations with colleagues, and an unexpected encounter with an ostensibly straight, white classmate, conspire to fracture his defenses while exposing long-hidden currents of hostility and desire within their community.

Real Life is a novel of profound and lacerating power, a story that asks if it’s ever really possible to overcome our private wounds, and at what cost.

©2020 Brandon Taylor (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"[A] stunning debut...Taylor proves himself to be a keen observer of the psychology of not just trauma, but its repercussions.... There is a delicacy in the details of working in a lab full of microbes and pipettes that dances across the pages like the feet of a Cunningham dancer: pure, precise poetry." (Jeremy O. Harris, The New York Times Book Review)

"Equal parts captivating, erotic, smart and vivid...[rendered] with tenderness and complexity, from the first gorgeous sentence of his book to its very last...Taylor is also tackling loneliness, desire and - more than anything - finding purpose, meaning and happiness in one’s own life." (Time)

"[Real Life is] a sophisticated character study of someone squaring self-preservation with a duty to tolerate people who threaten it. The book teems with passages of transfixing description, and perhaps its greatest asset is the force of Wallace’s isolation, which Taylor conveys with alien strangeness." (The New Yorker)

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  • Haynes
  • 29-02-20

Not My Gay Real Life

I Loved this book, the performance and the concepts. The meticulous nature of the science, sex and emotions was amazing. When do we get the sequel?

4 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Matt
  • 20-02-20

Patience is a virtue

For a story with complex, insightful and deeply sensitive characters.. they are incredibly bad at communicating with each other. Like, frustratingly bad. It is obvious Wallace ( the main character) is extremely intelligent and faces racial & prejudicial challenges/obstacles on the reg; the guy bottles up those emotions and quite effectively pass them along to the reader.

The story is told at a painfully slow pace in my opinion, which does allow for the massive amount of detail and insight to be transferred.

They story us beautifully written in contrast to the pace, I am extremely confused about how I feel other than gratitude that I am not openly gay or black, and I know that is a terrible thing to say since I am neither racist or homophobic.

I honestly had to stop this book with a little more than 3 hours left to go because of how hard it was to listen. So, my review is incomplete.

My favorite character is Tom. The guy that just avoids hanging out with this particular circle of friends/colleges.

Yes this book does mimic “real life”, judgments at all.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Dennis Sims
  • 08-04-20

Is this real life? Really!

This book did not grasp my attention I had to force myself to read this book. I do not believe this book demonstrate demonstrate it real life one way or the other. I wish that the book had some substance. Substance to where you can grab hold to whether it’s negative or positive. I see no focus no direction in this book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Adam
  • 04-07-20

indifferent

Towards the end of this book the main character talks about being indifferent to something that just happened to him. That is precisely how I feel about this book. Indifferent

The Good: We have to start with Kevin R. Free. As usual he gives a stellar performance. He knows how to use emotion in his voice without making it too campy. The writing in this novel is beautiful. The words and description leaves nothing to the imagination. For a debut book I think this author has a lot to offer his readers.

The Bad: My biggest gripe with this book is the ending. If you are the type that needs a satisfying ending...or any kind of ending, this isn't the book for you. I honestly felt like we got to this big build up where the characters were going to finally make choices, like a person would do in Real Life, and then it just ended. And because the author has a tendency to jump backwards into the past to explain current characters, characteristics, or relationships I had no idea where the book ended was where it was going to end or needed to end. It felt empty. This isn't the type of book you can just make up your own mind where the story goes from the end.

1 person found this helpful