The Review

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

In a world full of sex comedies, could there be such a thing as a sex drama? Perhaps? Brandon Taylor’s debut novel follows Wallace, a grad student, through a weekend which will forever change his life. As a reader, I picked up the book prepared for the truncated timeline. Knowing the short period of exposition only heightened the drama.

Wallace’s father has just passed away, unknown to his grad school friends at the beginning of the novel. In fact, many things are unknown to those friends. Their grad school life is centered as much on their labs as on the lake near their university. Wallace is one of the few students of color in the department, and while many of his friend group are also gay, the forces of whiteness and straightness still find their default forces to push against Wallace’s sense of worth and work.

Without giving away major plot details, Wallace and Miller’s relationship is the taut string of the tennis racket that everything else bounces off of. I’ve never read dialogue like those between Miller and Wallace before. Read it and talk to me about the fried fish scene, and what comes before. I’m dying to have this conversation with someone.

Some literary novels have little forward momentum– this one flies. I read it in three sittings, afraid that if I stepped away too long, I would miss something.

Read it. You’ll be glad you did.

The Details

Real Life by Brandon Taylor

Release: Riverhead Books, February 18, 2020

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Thank you to NetGalley for a free advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.