Edmund was dying, but now he isn't. Granted a reprieve from the HIV that took everyone he loved away from him, Edmund decides-after a period of holing up in his Rosedale home-to jump-start his new lease on life by diving hard into the sex and drugs of the party scene.
Teresa is dying, and she's livid. Determined not to let her illness slow her down, she uses the year she has remaining to avenge past grievances and correct certain "mistakes" she feels she made-both in connection to her estranged son.
Joel isn't dying, and probably won't be for a while. Coddled to a state of perpetual naivety by his mother, he moves to the big city of Toronto with dreams of becoming an artist and finding true love. What he finds is somewhat less than he bargained for-though he won't admit it.
In telling the intersecting stories of Edmund, Teresa, and Joel-all of whom leave trails of hopeful chaos in their wake-ReLit Award-winning author Greg Kearney has painted a blackly comic, yet surprisingly earnest, portrait of modern loneliness. The Desperates is one of the rare novels that leaves you laughing even as it breaks your heart.
“Greg Kearney’s debut novel is a deeply insightful and boundlessly witty rendering of urban relationships in the so-called post-plague early millennial years. In lean, diamond-cut prose he finds the humanity — the frailty, strength, pathos, and profound humour — in the social and sexual maelstrom of our era. As a writer, Mr. Kearney is an authentic, distinctive Canadian literary voice, and important new chronicler of his times. The Desperates broke my heart with its beauty, yet left me grateful for the breaking.”
“Kearney’s first novel … is full of the good stuff … Kearney’s gift is to take his often gruesome and truly awful material and spin that darkness into joy … Each life is a weapon that scars whomever posses it, and in laughing through the fear and pain and rage, Kearney urges us to consider the unlikely phenomena of being alive for what it is: something that hurts no matter how tenuously we grasp it, the very same thing so light and soft and brief that we can’t help but find it tickling.”
“Hilarious, harrowing and — dare we say? — heartwarming.”
“An exceptional novel by one of Canada’s most unique literary voices.”
“Hilarious, face-twistingly funny … the characters are all long strings of adjectives that don’t always (or even often) meet their own or others’ expectations. And, somehow, Greg Kearney makes that fundamentally okay, not only for them, but for readers as well.”
“I’ve been waiting for this novel for a decade, and it doesn’t disappoint. Greg Kearney is the funniest writer in Canada, period.”
“The book is at once wise and complex, and devastatingly funny … I’ve never read a novel quite like this. Kearney is a unique stylist. Especially given the increasing trend toward arts about AIDS that is either sanitized or mythologized, The Desperates offers a much-needed dose of realness. It’s an important book.”