Lance Ringel’s latest novel, Floridian Nights, unfolds against a background that at times, surprisingly, can feel as distant as the World War I France of his award-winning debut novel, Flower of Iowa.
August, 1988 – the hottest summer in more than a century in New York, a city shadowed by the AIDS epidemic. Gary Gaines is 35 years old and three years past losing, in the most sudden, unexpected, terrible way, the love of his life, Becker Barnes. And then again, he is not past it at all. One night, to forget their mutual pain, Gary and his best friend Julia Stern, an even more recent widow, venture out to a funky East Village restaurant. There Gary meets, in the most unlikely circumstances, Rick Fennell, a 22-year-old waiter freshly moved from the Midwest. Despite the generation gap between them, a relationship slowly begins to develop. But Gary cannot bring himself to take Rick seriously, and his tight circle of family and friends, all of whom adored Becker, share his skepticism. Abruptly, circumstances cause Gary to decamp from New York to his parents’ home in Florida. As the days and nights pass, he is forced to face the consequences of his paralyzing grief, and make decisions about the future.
Floridian Nights captures a unique moment in time – a pre-digital age, when easy public affection and equality in marriage remain faraway dreams, but an organized community has finally emerged into the sunlight, and a gay man can find complete acceptance within his own family. The terror and tragedy of a killer epidemic stalking the land will be all too familiar to contemporary readers, even as they enjoy a culture-clash romance that ricochets between the unexpectedly comic and the deeply poignant.
Reading followed by a Q&A
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Lance Ringel’s debut novel Flower of Iowa, an epic love story between two soldiers in the First World War, won book awards spanning multiple categories. His recently published second novel, Floridian Nights, is a generation-gap gay romance set against the backdrop of the 1980s AIDS epidemic. Ringel’s works for the theater include the plays In Love with the Arrow Collar Man, based on the true story of famed illustrator J.C. Leyendecker and his lover Charles Beach, and the current production Flash/Frozen, also based on true historical events.
Chuck Muckle (director/playwright/actor/composer) directed IN LOVE WITH THE ARROW COLLAR MAN and MOURNING BECOMES RIDICULOUS at the New York New Works Festival. MBR was previously chosen as one of four finalists in the Manhattan Theatre Mission’s second annual musical showcase, where it won awards for best book, lyrics, actor and actress. He appeared in the National Tours of SOUTH PACIFIC and CAMELOT with Robert Goulet, the Eastern Tour of A CHRISTMAS CAROL with John Astin, and was in the feature film THE NIGHT BEFORE with Seth Rogen.