About this book
Finalist, City of Vancouver Book Award
"Winston closed his eyes with relief. He heard muffled pulses of party noise, but still felt damp and uncomfortable. His brain had turned haywire. At the mirror over the sink he was relieved to find his everyday face and no tell-tale outward sign—febrile flush, scarlet ears, Mr. Hyde eyes. He bent to the sinkboth mirror and basin were too low, as though the bathroom had been built for children or with grief-shrunken Eastern European widows in mind—and splashed his face with cold water."
Equal parts BildŁngsroman and purported literary artifact, The Age of Cities is really about the age of innocence. A manuscript is discovered inside a hollowed-out home economics textbook from the 1950s: the story of a male librarian from a small town who comes to the big city at the height of the Cold War in 1959. At first he is giddy with the discovery of an urban paradise, allowing him to reinvent himself at the same time as the city is. But his accidental discovery of a gay subculture—culminating in a feverish, dream-like initiation—pushes him irrevocably towards crisis.
Written in the dialect of the time and framed by contemporary "analysis," The Age of Cities is an imaginary artifact that is about the past and present all at once: a novel of ambiguous boundaries and invasive dichotomies. It is also about discovery, loss, and the ages-old "closet" where stories lie hidden from view.
The hilariously wicked dialogue is outdone by the lush, vivid, and delicately crafted settings described throughout the book.
The Age of Cities
is a rare look at a time when to be closeted meant a landscape as bare as the one outside Winston's [the protagonist's] window.
—The Edge Boston
Exquisitely crafted and rich with detail, the dexterous prose of Grubisic's novel makes for a most beguiling and confident debut. Suffused with sentences both meticulous and insightful, and flavored with sly humor, one lingers over them, savoring their pleasure like that of a delectable meal.
—D. Travers Scott, author of One of These Things is Not Like the Other
An intriguing find for the ongoing dialogue on, and revision of, the Canadian canon. A.X. Palios has unearthed that rarest of finds: a novel that makes us rethink an era.
—Tamas Dobozy, author of Last Notes and Other Stories
and When X Equals Marylou
Is it possible to be in the closet and not know it? This is a book that speaks of a time when that was entirely possible.... Grubisic's meticulous depiction of the era [the late 1950s] pays off.... written with ease and elegance.
—Broken Pencil Magazine
You may think of a North American Gide, though not so chilly... The Age of Cities rewards the reader with the power of an unapologetic work of art.
—Lambda Book Report
The Age of Cities
mingles past and present with powerful effect. The history of gay men and lesbians does indeed contain real artifacts that should be brought to light. But because the hidden lives of people now gone can only be imagined, we also need storytellers who make us experience the moving, sad truth of decent people making do without many of the rights we now almost take for granted. The signal achievement of Brett Josef Grubisic in this book is the beautifully realized story of Winston and his trips to the big city." —Gay & Lesbian Review
Brett Josef Grubisic manages literally to deconstruct the [coming-out novel] genre while deftly poking fun at academics who do such things for a living. Grubisic's narrative device is a delight. —Literary Review of Canada