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The Night Listener

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  5,218 ratings  ·  378 reviews
"I'm a fabulist by trade," warns Gabriel Noone, a late-night radio storyteller, as he begins to untangle the skeins of his tumultuous life: his crumbling ten-year love affair, his disaffection from his Southern father, his longtime weakness for ignoring reality. Gabriel's most sympathetic listener is Pete Lomax, a thirteen-year-old fan in Wisconsin whose own horrific past ...more
Paperback, Movie Tie-In Edition, 400 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published 2000)
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Paul Jr. Not really that I could see. I took the name "Noone"as somewhat thematically taken from the words "no one." Don't know if that was the intent, but it …moreNot really that I could see. I took the name "Noone"as somewhat thematically taken from the words "no one." Don't know if that was the intent, but it fit for me. My favorite of all of Maupin's novels.(less)
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Paul Jr.
Originally reviewed for Uniquely Pleasurable.

First, a disclaimer. This review covers the original publication of the novel and not the movie-tie in version. The movie varies substantially (and is really rather dreadful) from the original novel and it is unknown if the tie-in version of the novel was rewritten to incorporate new information and/or details found in the movie.

The novel The Night Listener is Maupin’s fictional take on his interaction with Anthony Godby Johnson, a “young boy” who was
Jul 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, thriller
After reading the book, I'm not sure why the trailers for the movie tried to pass it off as a thriller - it's not creepy or scary or anything. It's a mind puzzle and a mystery, but I guess Hollywood thinks its audience won't enjoy something cerebral (they did the same thing with Stephen King's Secret Window; its advertising campaign puzzles me to this day).

The neatest thing about the book is that it's based on something that actually happened to the author. The copy of the book I have contains
Okay. Within the first five pages, it became apparent that this book was about storytelling and truth and falsehood and embellishment. Not only does the narrator, Gabriel Noone, tell the reader this point blank, but Armistead Maupin tells us that himself, by making the parallels between himself and his main character extremely easy to draw. Okay, we think, here we have an equivalent Armistead Maupin, who has written an equivalent Tales of the City series, in which equivalent characters act out a ...more
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought I knew what to expect from this book, and how it would resolve itself, because I knew that it was based loosely on Maupin's relationship with Anthony Godby Johnson, the teenage boy who wrote the memoir "A Rock and a Hard Place," a book I read and which affected me quite a bit both when I read it and when I found out years later that it might all have been a hoax. Lots of famous people were taken in by the possibly non-existent Johnson, including Maupin and author Paul Monette.

I was not
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This might have got 5 stars if it hadn't been for the ending. Once I picked it up, I couldn't bear tom put it down, I became so engrossed in the plotline and the mystery as to whether or not this boy really existed. For me, fiction is at its best when the characters speak to something inside you and you can empathise with them and they become real. You don't have to LIKE them, but you have to care about what happens. I don't have to have everything tied up and bundled into a neat little parcel, ...more
May 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I watched the movie a lot when I was a teen, it had more of a creepy vibe to it. This is more bittersweet and kind of heartbreaking. Amistead Maupin is a great storyteller, so I'm more interested in Tales of the City now. ...more
Knowing nothing of Maupin and even less of Anthony Godby Johnson, I read this book without any preconceptions and enjoyed it thoroughly, up until Pete's last phone call to the narrator, which seemed to me one twist too many. At some level, this story reminded me of Walter Kirn's "Blood Will Out", in that both books explore how a minor celebrity with lots of emotional baggage finds himself compelled to believe an unbelievable story. In this case, Maupin's alter ego Gabriel Noone falls hook line a ...more
A psychological drama (billed as a psychological thriller, but definitely not a thriller in my opinion) that's equal parts weird and mundane. Gabriel Noone, a writer who has gained fame through a radio serialisation of his stories, is sent a copy of a harrowing memoir written by a young boy who has suffered serious sexual abuse and is dying of AIDS. Moved by the story, he starts to talk to the boy, Pete, on the phone and the two develop a close relationship, seeing themselves as father and son. ...more
Mikael Kuoppala
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“The Night Listener” is a very good example of how a mystery novel can shine without creepy settings and dark characters in action packed storylines. This is a deeply moving, quiet and very emotional mystery that builds its enchanting plot lines with subtlety. It prevails by keeping the main focus on wonderfully depicted character interaction.

There isn’t all that much story to the novel in fact, but still it feels like a very quick, compact read. This is mostly due to Maupin’s talent as a storyt
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not one of the Tales of the City books but equally brilliant. A real mystery and a great ending, about which I will say no more.
Bert Z
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m constantly surprised by Armistead Maupin and what a truly great writer and storyteller he is. This is the last of his novels that I have to read after the 9 Tales of the City books and the standalone novel Maybe The Moon, and I have to say that I think I saved the best for last.

The Night Listener is a fantastic story, so expertly written and crafted. It shows just what a talented writer Mr Maupin is that he can write a series of books like TOFC, and then switch gears and write something so c
Cris (the_book_adventurer)
A Good Quote: "Nothing had ever met my expectations, since nothing could compete with my doctoring imagination, my pathetic compulsion to make the world quainter, funner, kinder, and more mysterious than it actually was" (Maupin, 242).

Armistead Maupin took an experience from his own life, fictionalized it, and offered the world an intriguing story about a young troubled boy who finds solace in the voice of a male radio-show host. The book begins with an in-depth view of both the young boy and t
Prima Seadiva
Jan 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Audiobook, read well by the author.
I had not read any Maupin for years so long ago I have forgotten most of Tales of the City except that I mostly liked it.
I really enjoyed this book until about 2/3 of the way through, when the plot though based on a purportedly true story, just took a silly turn and for that I'd drop half a star.
Honestly the main character just behaved stupidly in a way, to me, only the well to do could. Taking off impulsively on a car trip from S.F. to the midwest (in a snowy
Shelley Eriksen
Menh. Found the writing lacked any sparkle, and the neediness of the protagonist was a turn-off. I'm all for the wounded/fucked-up narrator, but Noone felt like an emotional hypochondriac. I'd heard Maupin was a clever and entertaining writer but found the asides and humor just... twee. Jejeune, even. ...more
Dec 12, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
This was a really weird book and I didn't know where the hell it was going. I'm still kind of confused... not about the book, or how it ended, but how to properly review it and how I feel about it. It was definitely interesting, I can say that much. 🤔🤨 ...more
Daniel Reeves
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This gripped me from start to finish.

The Night Listener is written gracefully and vividly. It’s a mind-bending mystery and a realistic, and refreshing, look at unique relationships. I found myself thinking about the lives of others in ways I never had before.

I need to find someone to discuss that ending with, though!
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prob 3.5. Definite page turner from the start, good writing, quick read but not super jazzed about the ending.
Sarah Cypher
I admit it: I've come late to Armistead Maupin. I've never read Tales of the City, nor his short stories. It's always an uncertain endeavor, beginning to read an author by picking up one of his most postmodern, meta-fictional novels. But give me 1,738.4 miles of highway and the wide-open Mojave Desert to cross, and y'know, I'll read just about anything.

Imagine how lucky I felt, then, when The Night Listener engaged me so much that I soldiered through it despite my signature bouts of motion sickn
Apr 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I found this book to be slow burning, and not in a bad way at all. It was a book where nothing specific happens, but a story is told, a growth, like a coming-of-age story despite the main protagonist being 55 years old.

Yes this book was about a gay guy, but although technically it could be called gay fiction and there is a lot of I guess sexist issues in the book it is one where the gay guy isn't overtly gay. he seems normal and as such this book is able to be read without that pre assumed thin
Vicki Jarrett
I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed Maupin’s Tales of the City series. I loved them – but that WAS quite a few years ago, maybe I’m just older and more cynical but this felt more manipulative than his earlier work. I always loved his easy style and intimate confessional tone, and that was all still there and still very enjoyable. But it all seemed a little weary and the confessions trotted out as if to order rather than offered with an open heart. The ending was also kind of unresolved ...more
Jul 18, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had heard good reports about this book and I read about 100 pages and it seemed ok but then it started to get weird and it lost me.

Back Cover Blurb:
Gabriel Noone is a writer whose late-night radio stories have brought him into the homes of millions. Noone is in the midst of a painful separation from his lover of ten years, when a publisher sends him the memoir of a thirteen-year-old boy who suffered horrific abuse at the hands of his parents.
Pete Lomax is not only a brave and gifted diarist bu
Rena Sherwood
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mysteries
Sadly, the story behind The Night Listener is more interesting than this book. The one night stand affair with a trucker just came out of nowhere and did not add to the overall story -- although it winds up being one of the most memorable bits of the book. Thanks for that mental image, Mr. Maupin.


This edition is under the wrong impression that The Night Listener is a major book of the the twentieth century. It ends with pages and pages of interviews with Maupin and making of the mostly forgotten
May 10, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Maupin Fans
I wasn't particularly thrilled with the book. It wasn't creepy to me, or exciting much. There were some moments that got intense, and I did find out more about sexual subcultures which is great, outside of these facts I didn't enjoy the book. I found myself sighing and rolling my eyes alot. This could be due to the sad break-up situation the character is facing and my inability at this point in my life, to empathize. Cry cry cry okay I get it you're sad and you're reaching out to anyone who will ...more
I actually liked the movie much better than the book. It was creepier and weirder, whereas the book was rather annoying. This is a fictionalized account of something real that happened to the author, but Maupin emphasized more his relationship with his ex-boyfriend and his father. I found him to be very whiny and annoying. The book also had what I consider a "trick" ending in which I felt duped and deceived, and irritated. The writing is okay, but I wouldn't recommend the book. See the movie ins ...more
Jan 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the only book by this author that I've read and the reason I read it is because I bought it so I could get it autographed by the author for my friend Jerry in Tulsa. Shout out to Tulsa!!! The author was nice when I told him I hadn't read any of his books but would kindly appreciate if he signed "to Jerry"

Anywhoozle, the book is good. It's well-paced and not-too-deep entertainment. It's kind of dark, but not too much. I also like that there's never really any firm conclusion stated about
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this when it came out, over a dozen years ago. I enjoyed it a lot more this time around, and I'm trying to figure out why. Perhaps it's because I've grown up a bit and can empathize somewhat with people who have nurturing/parenting urges. Or maybe I loved it more this time because the audio book was such a fun listen (Armistead read it himself in his ever-so-charming voice). It's a strange, mysterious journey, a story of an unlikely friendship and learning to view the world outside ...more
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Three stars seems oddly too high for this book, so take my 2 stars to mean 2.5ish. I really couldn't say it was in the slightest bit believeable nor particularly gripping. The only thing keeping me reading at points was an inability to sleep on my part.

Firstly, speaking as someone with some knowledge of the profession of psychologists and someone also aware of child protection protocols, there's a whole lot of suspension of disbelief required for this story.

I have to admit it's pretty passable
Jun 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful and moving book about loneliness that touched me very, very deeply. The psychological depth is profound. I still ache when I think of it.

Hollywood should be ashamed of how badly the butchered this amazing book--Robin William was perfect casting, but the screenplay was atrocious.
Jul 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, month-06
This is a wonderful book, one of the few where you are less than halfway through and already don't want it to end.
It's all the more poignant knowing that the character of Gabriel is but a cypher for Maupin himself and the book his own catharsis following divorce.
Nov 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Much better, IMO, than the Tales from the City, though I liked them too. There was just some really good twists and I loved the POV character.
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Armistead Maupin was born in Washington, D.C., in 1944 but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. A graduate of the University of North Carolina, he served as a naval officer in the Mediterranean and with the River Patrol Force in Vietnam.

Maupin worked as a reporter for a newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, before being assigned to the San Francisco bureau of the Associated Press in 1971. In 19

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