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To ask other readers questions about Real Life , please sign up. I love the cover of Real Life. I think the background is based on gel electrophoresis - what is the species of the bird?

Jason Perdue this is a great article by the cover designer and how it came about. This question contains spoilers… view spoiler [What was the meaning of that last chapter in the novel?

Did the author just jump back to the first time Wallace met his friends? What did he want to show with that flashback? It seemed strange to me.

Did I miss something? Is the entire novel just what Wallace imagines his future with these new friends might be? Brian This answer contains spoilers… view spoiler [ I took it as a flashback to a moment where Wallace stood on the precipice of a new beginning, leaving behind the horrific traumas of his childhood.

He …more I took it as a flashback to a moment where Wallace stood on the precipice of a new beginning, leaving behind the horrific traumas of his childhood.

He'd had so much taken from him and took an incredible risk to start a new life in his PhD program. Meeting new people who at first are immediately ready to accept him as he is.

No indignities suffered yet in his program, no complicated dynamics with his friends, and none of the passion or pain with Miller It's a precious moment of innocence for Wallace.

We've all lived our own versions of moments like that. But as we all sadly know, Real Life doesn't work that way in the long run.

See all 4 questions about Real Life…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details.

More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Real Life. Sep 15, Roxane rated it it was amazing. There is writing so exceptional, so intricately crafted that it demands reverence.

He writes so powerfully about so many things--the perils of graduate education, blackness in a predominantly white setting, loneliness, desire, trauma, need.

Wallace, the man at the center of this novel, is written with such nuance and tenderness and complexity.

He is closed unto himself but wanting to open There is writing so exceptional, so intricately crafted that it demands reverence. He is closed unto himself but wanting to open to others even though the people around him may not be fully up to the task.

And there is a sharp undercurrent of the erotic throughout. The way Taylor writes about bodies in the physical world is one of the highlights in a novel full of highlights.

Truly, this is stunning work from a writer who wields his craft in absolutely unforgettable ways. View 2 comments.

But that barely touches the experience of reading this novel. He writes as if he is closing his eyes and imagining he was opening other eyes that would look inward instead of out.

This, I think, is the kind of prose that wants to be more than just read. It wants to be heard and tasted and felt.

The kind that slides between your ribs, and opens you up like a reliquary full of old, forgotten memories. A mind is a place—a landscape, a wilderness, a city, a world—that you could pace in endless, restless circuits and never find its edges.

But no matter how good the mind is at hiding things, it cannot erase them. It can only conceal, and concealed things are not gone.

I saw myself in Wallace , in the weariness to his edges, like fraying cloth. I recognized in his manner a familiar loneliness, a forlornness.

That unbearable claustrophobia of the soul that comes through with powerful clarity in this novel—no walls to throw an echo back, you clap and clap, but nothing answers back.

It was hard to keep reading at times, as though with every page, I left something essential of me behind. The remembered violence of his past which he was in most agony to hide, but which was working its way into every crevice of his life, transmuting itself into an all-pervasive self-hatred and shame.

The sadness in his anger, the guardedness of his grief over his recently dead father. A need growing inside his chest like a fruit splitting its rind: to shed his skin, snakelike, and fling himself into the seething unknown.

Academia, and how it was twofold for Wallace—it sidelined him Wallace feels bottlenecked in the narrow halls of his predominantly white school, pressed together like tinned fish with people waiting for him to set foot in an unpropitious spot and prove their assumptions about him , but it also shepherded him.

There will always be good white people who love him and want the best for him but who are more afraid of other white people than of letting him down.

But he also knows that the point is not fairness. The point is not to be treated fairly or well. The point is to get your work done.

The point is results. We live in a culture that makes such little effort to understand the experiences of queer people of color, let alone help us understand our own.

It rings a bell deep inside, striking a resonant, vibrating note that makes you nod yes with recognition. Sensual, defiant, and highly inward, this fiercely honest debut will linger long past the last page.

A must-read. View all 16 comments. May 11, Thomas rated it it was ok Shelves: adult-fiction , lgbtq , realistic-fiction , arc , first-reads. Though it pains me to write it, this book and I just did not fit well together much at all.

I appreciate some of what it portrays, the struggles of Wallace, a gay black biochemistry graduate student living in the Midwest.

Brandon Taylor does an excellent job of showing the anger and then learned helplessness Wallace experiences due to overt and subtle racism throughout the book.

My first extreme disappointment with Real Life stems from how I feel like a lot of the problematic and oppressive things within the novel are not addressed in a way that really calls them out.

Throughout the book though especially toward the end, Miller treats Wallace pretty poorly, culminating in a scene that reads very much like a view spoiler [direct sexual assault, when Miller forcefully penetrates Wallace hide spoiler ].

And this lack of growth gets to the core of my main frustration with this novel: Wallace never really gets better.

But for me, when I read books, I do value some sign of character development, some sign of healing or empowerment. Again, I get that sometimes life is shitty and people cope in ways that are self-condemning.

I did care about Wallace, though I always felt frustrated with the lack of movement in the novel, even when layers of trauma were uncovered and grievances in relationships occurred and occurred.

View all 12 comments. Feb 02, Michael rated it really liked it Shelves: Contemplative and absorbing, Real Life reflects on what it means to live authentically.

Unfolding over the course of a single summer weekend in a Midwestern college town, the story follows Wallace, a reticent biochem grad student, as he nears an existential breakdown.

His father has recently passed, he finds academia stultifying, and, as a queer Black man in an overwhelmingly white space, he finds himself estranged from his friends and labmates, subject to constant microaggressions and overt rac Contemplative and absorbing, Real Life reflects on what it means to live authentically.

His father has recently passed, he finds academia stultifying, and, as a queer Black man in an overwhelmingly white space, he finds himself estranged from his friends and labmates, subject to constant microaggressions and overt racist harassment.

Making things even more complicated is his budding romance with a standoffish white peer he formerly resented and thought straight.

View all 18 comments. Sep 16, Paris parisperusing rated it it was amazing. Do you know how wonderful it feels to be represented as a gay black man — and by one of our own?

Because when it comes to realizing the anxieties and nuances of our humanity, Taylor has given life to a character gay literature has been hellbent on keeping in the shadows.

These sufferings all feel a little less intolerable when a benevolent friend makes an unsuspectingly affectionate advance on Wallace, who timidly gives into whims and wants of his own.

But friendships, like the embrace of such sudden love, can only be a forcefield for so long until the burden of race, class, and expectation has its way.

Brandon has beaten me to the punch, but what a glorious sight it is to see another one of us leap across the finish line.

Much like the catharsis of Elio in front of that ungodly fireplace in Call Me by Your Name or how briskly my heart dissolved as Jack was slain in Brokeback Mountain , Real Life has the sort of cinematic charm to render any audience hot with tears.

My beloveds. Thank you all for keeping us alive. If you liked my review, feel free to follow me parisperusing on Instagram. View all 6 comments.

Feb 17, Esil rated it liked it Shelves: ew. It took me forever to read Real Life. Wallace is an African American graduate student in biochemistry at a mid western university.

He comes from a brutal impoverished family in Alabama. He is gay. His father died recently. He feels out of place and misunderstood.

But there are no better places on the horizon. The author paints an intimate portrait of alienation. Perhaps it was too much of a micro-emotional exploration for my current tastes.

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy. View all 24 comments.

Feb 26, Cece ProblemsOfaBookNerd rated it it was amazing Shelves: anticipated-of , male-protag , favorites , my-books , lgbtqia , read-in Longer review to come.

Now shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Better to imagine his friends happy than to see their unhappiness up close. The misery of other people, the persistence of unhappiness, is perhaps all that connects them.

Only the prospect of greater unhappiness keeps them within the circumscribed world of graduate school. I read this book due to its longlisting for the Booker Prize — and it is probably the bo Now shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

I read this book due to its longlisting for the Booker Prize — and it is probably the book on the longlist that has given me the most pause for reflection at this stage.

Over 30 years ago I went to University — something that was completely new to me and to any of my working class family and friends.

I stayed for a fourth year and was expected to stay for a PhD if only to keep my brilliant brother company , but I simply could not understand academia or the idea of being paid for research and was very keen to get a job in what I thought of as real life.

The college at which I studied I did mathematics was famous for its high level of science undergraduates — these NatScis and if I am being honest the whole college including myself being infamous for being wearing anoraks and being rather pale due to barely leaving their rooms unless to go to the library.

I found therefore this book simultaneously intriguing as it circles around the wider theme of whether academia is real-life and even what real life means and on one level alien, as other than the far more introverted and slightly over-weight narrator the college research scientists with which he mingles all seem to be tall, healthy, confident athletic types.

The basis of the book is Wallace, having left his home Southern state and a difficult upbringing has taken a place as a graduate student at a mid Western University.

Thinking that his homosexuality was effectively incompatible with where he grew up and sensing correctly it would be more acceptable at the college, he is rather blindsided by how little, as the first black student on his programme, he fits in or perhaps more to the point he is allowed to fit in.

And there is the other thing — the shadow pain, he calls it, because he cannot say its real name. Because to say its real name would be to cause trouble, to make waves.

The most unfair part of it, Wallace thinks, is that when you tell white people that something is racist, they hold it up to the light and try to discern if you are telling the truth.

As if they can tell by the grain if something is racist or not, and they always trust their own judgement. They are the fox in the henhouse.

There will always be this moment. It is easier for them to let it happen and to triage the wound later than to introduce an element of the unknown into the situation.

No matter how good they are, no matter how loving, they will always be complicit, a danger, a wound waiting to happen. The action in the book takes place over a single weekend — the last weekend of Summer before Wallace and his friends fourth year of graduate school.

Wallace, whose estranged father died a few weeks previously, is unsettled by the apparent sabotage of his experiment and speculates out loud to his friends about the possibility of leaving the program something which the author actually did - leaving a science PhD to take up writing.

Meanwhile the only real outsider in the group who like me works in finance raises again his view that the scientists are, in their refusal to leave the world of college, effectively taking refuge from real life.

Both of these seem to perturb the fragile equilibrium of the group and a number of tensions come to the fore — including one strained relationship Wallace has with another, self-proclaimed straight, graduate Miller which not entirely plausibly turns into a rather violent affair.

In the rather intense atmosphere the group of acquaintances: struggle to understand each other; get frustrated that they are not being understood; share in confidence, betray and then fail to react appropriately to secrets; get a glimpse of others unhappiness but only really through the lens of their own preoccupations.

Memory sifts. Memory lifts. Memory makes due with what it is given. Memory is not about facts. It always seemed to him that when people were sad for you, they were sad for themselves, as if your misfortune were just an excuse for them to feel what it was they wanted to feel.

Sympathy was a kind of ventriloquism Cruelty, Wallace thinks, is really just the conduit of pain. It conveys pain from one place to another — from the place of highest concentration to the place of lowest concentration, in the same way heat flows.

It is a delivery system, as in the way that certain viruses convey illness, disease, irreparable harm. This is perhaps why people get together in the first place.

The sharing of time. The sharing of the responsibility of anchoring oneself in the world. Life is less terrible when you can just rest for a moment, put everything down and wait without having to worry about being washed away.

But nevertheless on balance this is a strong novel — and for a young, debut author shows a remarkable ability to convey the very realistic life issue of latent racism.

View all 4 comments. Feb 26, Meike rated it really liked it Shelves: read , booker , usa. Now Shortlisted for the Booker Prize Taylor's debut novel is strong when it focuses on the subtle dynamics of social interactions, when it conveys what it means to live in a white world as a black, homosexual man.

Wallace, the protagonist, grew up in Alabama and is now enrolled in a graduate program for biochemistry in the Midwest - the only black student in his year.

They start a relationship Now Shortlisted for the Booker Prize Taylor's debut novel is strong when it focuses on the subtle dynamics of social interactions, when it conveys what it means to live in a white world as a black, homosexual man.

They start a relationship on the low, but, much like Wallace's interactions with his other friends, it is again and again troubled by reactions and behaviors Wallace has to deal with because he is black, and by his inhibitions fuelled by experiences.

One main focus is on the fact that the people who do not speak up, who do not take his side but tell themselves that they carry no responsibilty are as much the problem as those who discriminate against Wallace.

The author himself is black, queer, from Alabama and studied science in the Midwest, so in a way, this novel discusses real experiences in a fictional format.

While there is loud, obvious racism, it's the quieter kind that unfolds in everyday conversations that underlines what Wallace is up against, how deeply ingrained racism is in the structures he has to inhabit and in the heads of people he has to deal with - and how hard it is to react without becoming the person who ends up being blamed.

Taylor makes his readers feel the desperation and claustrophobia that comes with it, and thus gives us a new rendition of the genre of the campus novel.

Spanning over just a few pivotal days and interspersed with recollections of childhood trauma, the text packs a real emotional punch.

But please, dear authors: When you write a German into a novel, don't make them a chiffre and name them Klaus - it will be extremely hard to find a guy in the year and age group Taylor depicts who is actually named Klaus.

It just seems like Taylor carelessly slapped a random name that appeared to be typically German on the character, which reveals a serious amount of cluelessness.

This is a book about the struggle for dignity and to find a place for oneself, and how these strifes are made even harder through the effects of trauma and systemic injustice.

A fascinating read that requires close attention. Jun 08, Doug rated it it was amazing. Update: And now a rather surprising, but not unworthy, Booker longlist nominee.

Mainly, I was engrossed in this seemingly autobiographical tale of a queer, black grad student in a Midwestern Update: And now a rather surprising, but not unworthy, Booker longlist nominee.

Mainly, I was engrossed in this seemingly autobiographical tale of a queer, black grad student in a Midwestern University having to negotiate his position as such, amongst a circle of friends who are rather clueless regarding their own often unconscious racism.

To learn that this debut novel was written in a mere five weeks is astounding, since it betrays very little of the pitfalls for such.

In particular, Taylor excels in effortlessly rendering dialogue scenes with naturalistic aplomb.

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As if they can tell by the grain if something is racist or not, and they always trust their own judgement. They are the fox in the henhouse. There will always be this moment.

It is easier for them to let it happen and to triage the wound later than to introduce an element of the unknown into the situation. No matter how good they are, no matter how loving, they will always be complicit, a danger, a wound waiting to happen.

The action in the book takes place over a single weekend — the last weekend of Summer before Wallace and his friends fourth year of graduate school.

Wallace, whose estranged father died a few weeks previously, is unsettled by the apparent sabotage of his experiment and speculates out loud to his friends about the possibility of leaving the program something which the author actually did - leaving a science PhD to take up writing.

Meanwhile the only real outsider in the group who like me works in finance raises again his view that the scientists are, in their refusal to leave the world of college, effectively taking refuge from real life.

Both of these seem to perturb the fragile equilibrium of the group and a number of tensions come to the fore — including one strained relationship Wallace has with another, self-proclaimed straight, graduate Miller which not entirely plausibly turns into a rather violent affair.

In the rather intense atmosphere the group of acquaintances: struggle to understand each other; get frustrated that they are not being understood; share in confidence, betray and then fail to react appropriately to secrets; get a glimpse of others unhappiness but only really through the lens of their own preoccupations.

Memory sifts. Memory lifts. Memory makes due with what it is given. Memory is not about facts. It always seemed to him that when people were sad for you, they were sad for themselves, as if your misfortune were just an excuse for them to feel what it was they wanted to feel.

Sympathy was a kind of ventriloquism Cruelty, Wallace thinks, is really just the conduit of pain. It conveys pain from one place to another — from the place of highest concentration to the place of lowest concentration, in the same way heat flows.

It is a delivery system, as in the way that certain viruses convey illness, disease, irreparable harm. This is perhaps why people get together in the first place.

The sharing of time. The sharing of the responsibility of anchoring oneself in the world. Life is less terrible when you can just rest for a moment, put everything down and wait without having to worry about being washed away.

But nevertheless on balance this is a strong novel — and for a young, debut author shows a remarkable ability to convey the very realistic life issue of latent racism.

View all 4 comments. Feb 26, Meike rated it really liked it Shelves: read , booker , usa. Now Shortlisted for the Booker Prize Taylor's debut novel is strong when it focuses on the subtle dynamics of social interactions, when it conveys what it means to live in a white world as a black, homosexual man.

Wallace, the protagonist, grew up in Alabama and is now enrolled in a graduate program for biochemistry in the Midwest - the only black student in his year.

They start a relationship Now Shortlisted for the Booker Prize Taylor's debut novel is strong when it focuses on the subtle dynamics of social interactions, when it conveys what it means to live in a white world as a black, homosexual man.

They start a relationship on the low, but, much like Wallace's interactions with his other friends, it is again and again troubled by reactions and behaviors Wallace has to deal with because he is black, and by his inhibitions fuelled by experiences.

One main focus is on the fact that the people who do not speak up, who do not take his side but tell themselves that they carry no responsibilty are as much the problem as those who discriminate against Wallace.

The author himself is black, queer, from Alabama and studied science in the Midwest, so in a way, this novel discusses real experiences in a fictional format.

While there is loud, obvious racism, it's the quieter kind that unfolds in everyday conversations that underlines what Wallace is up against, how deeply ingrained racism is in the structures he has to inhabit and in the heads of people he has to deal with - and how hard it is to react without becoming the person who ends up being blamed.

Taylor makes his readers feel the desperation and claustrophobia that comes with it, and thus gives us a new rendition of the genre of the campus novel.

Spanning over just a few pivotal days and interspersed with recollections of childhood trauma, the text packs a real emotional punch.

But please, dear authors: When you write a German into a novel, don't make them a chiffre and name them Klaus - it will be extremely hard to find a guy in the year and age group Taylor depicts who is actually named Klaus.

It just seems like Taylor carelessly slapped a random name that appeared to be typically German on the character, which reveals a serious amount of cluelessness.

This is a book about the struggle for dignity and to find a place for oneself, and how these strifes are made even harder through the effects of trauma and systemic injustice.

A fascinating read that requires close attention. Jun 08, Doug rated it it was amazing. Update: And now a rather surprising, but not unworthy, Booker longlist nominee.

Mainly, I was engrossed in this seemingly autobiographical tale of a queer, black grad student in a Midwestern Update: And now a rather surprising, but not unworthy, Booker longlist nominee.

Mainly, I was engrossed in this seemingly autobiographical tale of a queer, black grad student in a Midwestern University having to negotiate his position as such, amongst a circle of friends who are rather clueless regarding their own often unconscious racism.

To learn that this debut novel was written in a mere five weeks is astounding, since it betrays very little of the pitfalls for such.

In particular, Taylor excels in effortlessly rendering dialogue scenes with naturalistic aplomb. Some topics looking at you copious details about nematodes and tennis games I found a big yawn, and wish had been judiciously edited out.

Some things I found difficult to swallow - that the protagonist had reached the age of approx. And although many of the characters stood out with strong identifying characteristics, others kind of blurred into an undifferentiated mass.

Although the wistful ending was well nigh perfect, I could have stood a bit more closure many of the issues raised are left open ended - and would have relished arch villainess Dana being hit by a bus, or coming down with a horrible fatal illness - but then, would that actually happen in View all 13 comments.

Mar 21, Jenny Reading Envy rated it it was amazing Shelves: read This is one of the best books I've read in a while, spread out over a few days because I was worried I'd finish it too quickly.

The author uses some of his own experiences as a gay science grad student who is also a person of color.

The character Wallace questions the white apology, how much we have to bring in from our past, and how sure we have to be of our life direction.

I feel like I'm not doing it justice, still wrapping my head around it, but definitely felt the intensity of this read.

And This is one of the best books I've read in a while, spread out over a few days because I was worried I'd finish it too quickly.

And it's not just the story, it's the writing. Here are a few examples: "Sympathy was a kind of ventriloquism. And something I get the impression he wants to believe but has not experienced in reality.

When you go to another place you don't have to carry the past with you The past doesn't need a future. It has no use for what comes next.

The past is greedy, always swallowing you up, always taking I can't live as long as my past does. It's one or the other.

Wallace is tired. Read it, read it, read it. TW for sexual assault. Feb 19, Anna Luce rated it really liked it Shelves: my-feelings , favourite-protagonists , physical-copies-i-own , poignant-reads , i-cried , reviews , own , favourites.

Into the narrow, dark water of real life? This is one heart-wrenching novel. Reading it was an immersive and all-consuming experience. I felt both secondhand anxiety, embarrassment, and anger, and the more I read the more frustrated I became by my own impotence At its heart, this is the Wallace's story.

Wallace is gay, black, painfully aware of his almost debilitating anxiety and of what he perceives as his physical and internal flaws.

After a childhood disrupted by poverty and many traumatic experiences, he withdraws into studies, dedicating most of his waking hours to lab tests and projects.

Yet, even if he works twice as hard as other students, many still imply—directly and non—that he was accepted into this program only because of his skin colour.

From its confined setting of a university city—in which we follow Wallace as he goes to a popular student hangout by the lake, to his uni's labs, to his or his friends' apartments—to its focus on the shifting alliances and power dynamics between a group of friends.

Yet, Taylor's novel also subverts some of this genre's characteristic. The academic world is not as sheltering as one might first imagine.

Questioning 'real life vs. Taylor's novel offers a much more less idyllic and romantic vision of the academic world than most other campus novels.

If anything we became aware of the way in which 'real life' problems make their way into a student's realm. As if affection were a kind of cruelty too.

While most of his friends are queer—gay, bisexual, or an unspecified sexuality—they are white and from far more privileged backgrounds.

What unfolds is deeply uncomfortable to read. In spite of their laughter and smiles, these people do not strike as friends. Their banter is cutting, their off-handed comments have sharp edges, and they are all incredibly and irresolutely selfish.

While they might not be directly aggressive or hostile, they repeatedly hurt, belittle, betray, and undermine one other. The distance Wallace feels from them is overwhelming.

Yet, even if he tries to be on the outskirts of their discussions, he finds himself having to deal with their racist or otherwise hurtful remarks.

Worst still, he is confronted with his 'friends' cowardice when they feign that they do not say racist or demeaning things. If anything they usually imply that he is the one who is oversensitive.

They mask their racism and elitism under a pretence of wokeness. Yet, when someone say something discriminatory out loud, they do nothing.

As he hangs out with his friends he finds himself noticing just how far from perfect they are. A perfect or happy life seems unattainable.

Even moments of lightheartedness or contentment give way to arguments and disagreements within this group. Even if what plagues Wallace's mind is far more disturbing than what his friends' rather mundane worries regarding their future careers, current relationship etc he often chooses to comfort or simply listen to them, rather than pouring his own heart out.

Wallace knows that they couldn't possibly understand his relationship to his family and past. And those feelings were transmuted into something cruel and mean.

Taylor does a terrific job in giving us an impression of Wallace's discordant psyche. Moments of dissociation make him further retread within himself, escaping his uncomfortable surroundings.

Like Wallace we begin to see his surroundings as unpleasant and claustrophobic. At times the people around him blur together, blending into a sea of white faces, making him feel all the more isolated.

Wallace's own insecurities colour most of his thoughts, feelings, and actions. Even when I could not understand him or in his moments of selfishness, I found myself caring for him and deeply affected by his circumstances.

What he experiences The halting and recursive dialogue is incredibly realistic. Even when discussing seemingly ordinary things there is an underlying tension.

And there is almost a stop-start quality to the characters' conversations that struck me for its realism.

The way in which their arguments spiral into awkward silences, the tentative words that follow more heated ones, the impact of tone and interpretation.

A sense of physicality, of eroticism, pervades Taylor's narrative. Characters are often compared to animals, close attention is paid to their bodies—from their skin to their limbs—and to the way the move and look by themselves and together as a group.

This attentiveness towards the body emphasises Wallace's own insecurity about the way he looks. In one of his more brooding moments he finds himself questioning whether he wants to be or be with an attractive guy.

His contemplations about same-sex attraction definitely resonated with me. Envy and desire are not mutually exclusive. For example, sensual moments are underpinned by a current of danger.

Wallace seems to find both force and vulnerability erotic. But standing there, among the boats, shyly waiting to discover the people to whom he felt he would belong, he sensed the foolishness in that.

There are disturbingly detailed descriptions about Wallace's lab-work, unflinching forays into past traumas, and thrilling evocations of sexual desire.

A seemingly ordinary weekend shows us just how inescapable social hierarchies are. The secular world of academia does not entirely succeed in keeping the real world at bay.

Depression, anxiety, dysphoria, the lingering effects of abuse all make their way into Wallace's story. We read of his confusing desires, of his 'friends' hypocrisy, of his own appetite for self-destruction Real Life is not an easy read.

There were many horrible moments in which I wanted to jump into the narrative to shake Wallace's friends. Wallace too, pained me. In spite of his observant nature, he remains detached.

He picks up on his friends' horrible behaviour but with one or two exceptions he does not oppose them. Yet, I could also see why he remained passive.

Being in his position is exhausting. It grates him to consider this, the shutting away of the part of him that now throbs and writhes like a new organ that senses so keenly the limitations of his life.

Real Life tackles racism, privilege, cruelty, cultural and power dynamics, and the complexities of sexual desire head on. Wallace's friends are aggravating if not downright despicable.

Which is perhaps why when alongside Wallace we glimpse some kindness in them, it makes us all the more upset.

Reading Real Life made me uncomfortable, angry, sad. What I'm trying to say, or write is this: this is a brilliant novel, one you should definitely read with some caution, of course.

Anyhow, I can't wait to read more by Taylor. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize Another of the debut novels on the Booker list, and for the most part the right kind of surprise.

This is an intense and personal book that follows a weekend in the life of Wallace, a gay black biochemistry student from Alabama in a mainly white university in the mid West.

Wallace is not the easiest protagonist to like - though he faces many problems and disadvantages, he keeps himself on the edge of the group of friends at the centre of the book, and often sa Shortlisted for the Booker Prize Another of the debut novels on the Booker list, and for the most part the right kind of surprise.

Wallace is not the easiest protagonist to like - though he faces many problems and disadvantages, he keeps himself on the edge of the group of friends at the centre of the book, and often says things which inflame issues rather than healing them.

His father died some weeks before the weekend of the story, and his feelings about that were decidedly ambiguous because of the abuse his father inflicted on him as a child - Wallace chooses not to go home to attend the funeral or talk about it with his university friends.

On the first night of the weekend, a previously straight member of the friendship group Miller starts a sexual relationship with Wallace, and their complicated feelings for and treatment of each other are described in some detail.

Wallace also faces problems with his lab work which seems to have been sabotaged by a fellow student, and questions his future in the university and his limited options if he left.

His options are limited by the student in question accusing him of misogyny. The writing is at times a little florid, and there is perhaps a little too much detail at times, but overall I enjoyed the book, and can understand why it made the longlist.

View 1 comment. Mar 03, Matthew rated it it was amazing. When she rose from her seat to greet her child as class concluded, she appeared visibly put out; it seemed as though she were in midst of texting someone else, that retrieving her kid was some monumental disruption to this activity.

I felt bad for her. And that she wasted money on such a stupid fucking sweatshirt. To each their own. Tough to disagree.

Even, and perhaps most especially, Miller, another member of their group of friends with whom Wallace begins a sexual relationship.

Theirs is a relationship founded on tenderness yet fueled by violence, by hurt, by trauma. So very real. To which I ask: what more do you have up your sleeve, Mr.

I, for one, cannot wait to find out. With Real Life, you pretty well established that. Feb 25, Darryl Suite rated it it was amazing.

Throughout the novel, I was burning with a quiet rage due to the circumstances Wallace finds himself placed in, such as being on the receiving end of casual racism.

A fascinating dynamic is that several of the casual racist remarks Wallace endures comes from his circle of white friends. I could relate. Voyeur amateur sex and hot bed scenes, enjoy wild porn parties with erotic games, spy on hidden bedroom and shower cameras, watch naked.

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