The Stars Care for None, by A.D. VanKirk.
I never saw much validity to Dad's sagacity, but there can be an instance where his wisdom deviated from the typical absurdities, and I understood. Never before and never again have I witnessed so much truth in his tiny sparks of wisdom then when I came upon the man I first knew as James Piece. I began to see just how flawed my first observations were.
He was quite the mess - Piece, I mean. Those that really know what it means to be a companion to James Piece assert that he was without a doubt, a genius. I feel privileged to say that I was one such of these companions.
The Stars Care for None is A. D. VanKirk's debut novel, and it's an interesting read, especially by a first-time writer. It's loosely based on The Great Gatsby, and you can see its influences throughout - one of the characters' names is actually a gay man named Jordan Baker (in G.G. the character is a woman), and the narrator muses over a billboard at one point that is similar to the one in the book and recent movie. The main character in this novel, however, is quite a bit different than Jay Gatsby, even though some of his struggles are the same.
James Piece is a closeted gay man and Kuwaiti immigrant to the United States struggling to discover himself while juggling his religion, ethnicity, country, and sexuality. Pulled in opposing directions by friendship, love, tradition, and faith, Piece must navigate a precarious existence in a post-9/11 Metro Detroit.
Not wanting to risk exclusion from any of the communities that he might adopt into his identity, Piece remains in a stagnant and uncertain state. When he rekindles the flame with his first-time lover, he begins to show signs of progress. Piece is moving toward a life where he might love openly, but is such a life enough to bring him solace or able to compensate for all he risks losing? Will he find comfort in the forces that demand he conform to their conditions? Told through the perspective of Nick, Piece's confidant, The Stars Care for None not only shares the endeavors of one man, but also those of an entire community.
The novel was set in the metro Detroit area, which I loved since I am also from here. The characters bounce around Royal Oak, Birmingham, and the city proper, and although the restaurants and bars they frequent seem to be fictitious, one can still get an overall sense of the cities from the novel.
Piece's story is interesting, as no one knows exactly who he is and what the truth is about his background, until he starts to confide in Nick (much like Gatsby and his confidant Nick). Piece was in love with a guy named Tom at one point, whom Nick knows because Tom is engaged to his friend Violet, and Nick ends up trying to reunite the two, even though he feels guilty since Violet has no idea of Tom's exploits.
The writing in this novel was very good and I could hear the author's voice clearly (I personally know the author, as I state below), which I also liked. There were a few situations that seemed a little implausible (which I can't get into without giving away spoilers about the end of the book), but otherwise everything seemed realistic, especially some of the online dating parts.
The Stars Care for None will be available for purchase starting in early March, or you can pre-order your copy here. 3.5 stars out of 5.
*Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from the author to review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.