"An often poignant, and sometimes chilling, romance of the creative class." --Edmund White
In the three decades since Peter first moved into his Brooklyn apartment, almost every facet of his life has changed. Once a broke, ambitious poet, Peter is now a successful advertising executive. He's grateful for everything the years have given him--wealth, friends, security. But he's conscious too of what time has taken in return, and a busy stream of invitations doesn't dull the ache that remains since he lost the love of his life.
Will is a young, aspiring journalist hungry for everything New York has to offer--culture, sophistication, adventure. When he moonlights as a bartender at one of Peter's parties, the two strike up a tentative friendship that soon becomes more important than either expected. In Peter, Will sees the ease and confidence he strives for, while Peter is suddenly aware of just how lonely his life has become. But forging a connection means navigating very different sets of experience and expectations, as each decides how to make a place for himself in the world--and who to share it with.
Beautifully written, warm yet incisive, Now and Yesterday offers a fascinating exploration of two generations--and of the complex, irrefutable power of friendship--through the prism of an eternally changing city.
“Greco slides a slice of American gay culture under the literary microscope… With his gift for observation and turns of phrase…Greco offers a book about big ideas rather than action: ideas about gay life; about the depths and importance of friendship; about money and power; about the need for love and sex; and about a man’s moral relationship to who he is and what he does. Greco has written a life-affirming yet melancholy, John O’Hara–like analysis of post-baby-boom-meets-millennial-queer Big Apple society.” – Kirkus Reviews on Now And Yesterday
1. Peter is fifty-nine and Will is twenty-eight. To what extent
does the age gap between them affect the development of
their relationship? Are there examples in the book of Peter
and Will attending a social event or performance together
and experiencing it in different ways, because of their age?
What other factors, besides age, prevent Peter and Will
from getting together sooner?
2. How do Peter and Will change over the course of the
novel? Does one change more than the other? (Make reference
to the decades in which Peter and Will grew up—respectively,
the ’50s and ’60s, and the ’80s and ’90s—and the
kinds of “programming” they would have received from
their parents.) Does Peter learn anything from Will? Does
Will learn anything from Peter?
3. By the end of the novel, Peter has realized he is still
wounded by the loss of his first long-term boyfriend to
AIDS, and that that wound has kept him from embracing
new love, with Will. What does it mean to “heal” from such
a wound? How is Peter on his way toward healing, as the
novel ends? In what ways, historically, have events like
plagues and wars left whole groups of people wounded psychologically,
and how do these compare with AIDS?
4. Some older gay men find they don’t fit comfortably into
today’s “post-liberation” gay culture, where issues like
AIDS and coming out are less central than they were in past
decades. In what ways does Peter fit in and/or not fit in?
Does Will, a much younger man, fit in any better?
5. How does the novel treat the fact that Peter’s friend
Jonathan has survived AIDS only to be exposed to another
disease associated with men of the age that he and Peter are
now? With irony? Sympathy? How do Jonathan’s actions
reveal the way he has chosen to embrace his fate? How are
other gay men of Peter and Jonathan’s generation depicted
in the novel?
6. Because of AIDS, older single gay men like Peter face an extremely
limited dating pool of available men of the same
age. What romantic and sexual options are open to Peter,
other than dating younger men? How do these compare
with the romantic and sexual options for straight men of
7. Peter and Will are both affected by their road trip upstate,
to visit Jonathan. What happens to them, emotionally, on
that trip? How are things different between the two when
they return to the city, and why?
8. Is Peter fooling himself to think that the McCaw assignment
is “just another job”? Is he a sellout, by the standards espoused
by his upstate friend Arnie? Is Arnie noble for still
holding on to his old-school, politically correct standards?
Are those standards obsolete? Have they been superseded
by newer forms of political correctness?
9. Discuss the way gay life in New York and life upstate are depicted
in this novel. Are Peter and Will typical gay men? Do
they, because of their work in the media or other privileges,
wield special influence over gay culture and contemporary
culture at large?
10. Peter is a member of the “baby boom” generation. In what
ways is he typical of the baby boomers and in what ways
not? Historically speaking, how might the expectations of
gay baby boomers have helped fuel the Stonewall rebellion
and other liberation movements? How have boomer expectations
shaped culture at large?