by Robert Ferro
Published by Crown
Published January 27, 1988
215 pgs. • Find on Amazon.com
Reviewed by Stephen O. Murray
March 10, 1995.
In 1983, Robert Ferro was in San Francisco on a book tour for The Family of Max Desir, looking healthy, saying he wanted to outlive “the current crisis.” Four months later he was dead.
Knowing of the interstellar fantasy part, I didn’t read Second Son until Alan Dishman recently told me it was one of his favorite novels and one he gives to people just coming out. I don’t quite see the basis of either accolade.
The family aspiring to cool WASPishness but easily perturbed (like bees) seems perfunctory and schematic. The romance with another stricken man works, and the epistolary exchange (like—or perhaps with?—Andrew Holleran) is amusing.
The writing is unspecial, even avoiding naming IT. And there is a bit of the romance with punishment in “Love made me ill” (p. 70) and “We go from living like monks to committing acts of sexual suicide” (p. 143) that are also uncomfortably close to Holleran’s homophobia.
It is depressing that he had so little time left then when he was going to give family issues a rest and write a historical novel—and that my impression of his books is less strong than my memory of his geniality and seriousness at his A Different Light appearance.
10 March 1995
©1995, 2016, Stephen O. Murray