A pensive, creative, and haunting novel that speaks expressly to the heart without sentimentality, by the author of Dancer from the Dance (1978), an important novel from the 1970s-'80s gay-lit renaissance. The title of Holleran's new novel states its theme. He offers the story of a middle-aged gay man heading to Washington, D.C., to live and teach for a short term, to get away from his hometown after his mother's death. He takes a room in an elegant townhouse owned by another middle-aged gay man, who is slowly and quietly grieving over the loss of youthful energy, attractiveness, and prowess. While living in Washington and commiserating with his landlord and the friend they have in common over the loss of lives the tsunami of AIDS caused in the '80s, he rather accidentally picks up a volume containing the letters of Mary Todd Lincoln, and he is taken by her grief and sense of displacement after her husband's death and ends up reading every page. His plan, however, especially in coming to Washington, is to start life over again, which Mrs. Lincoln was never able to do--her grief and loneliness became a deep well from which she couldn't escape. Holleran's "message"--That grief is never avoidable for any of us--is so sensitively rendered that it never impedes the swift development of the story line. - from Booklist (ALA).