"Blackouts is rich and strange in all the best ways: tender, rebellious, formally inventive, genre-defying. A young gay Puerto Rican man tends to an older, dying one named Juan, and their dialogue spirals through both queer history and the two men's overlapping personal histories. At the heart of the book is the endlessly fascinating Jan Gay--lesbian, researcher, nudist, picture book author, and a real, though sadly seldom-recognized, historical figure--whose study, 'Sex Variants,' was stolen and warped by her male colleagues. Her story becomes more and more intertwined with Juan's and the young narrator's, resulting in a haunting meditation on legacy, erasure, and community. Blackouts is so singular that it's difficult to describe, and so informative and revealing that it's difficult to categorize solely as a novel. It's unlike any book you've read before, and you'll be thinking about it long after you finish."
"Blackouts is simultaneously reserved and expansive; a story of two people talking in a hotel room presented in one of the most elaborately beautiful packages I saw this year. Blackouts recognizes the pleasure of the book-as-object, a physical item one can carry along, change irrevocably, and leave behind for another to discover."
From the bestselling author of We the Animals, Blackouts mines lost histories―personal and collective.
Out in the desert in a place called the Palace, a young man tends to a dying soul, someone he once knew briefly, but who has haunted the edges of his life. Juan Gay―playful raconteur, child lost and found and lost, guardian of the institutionalized―has a project to pass along to this new narrator. It is inspired by a true artifact of a book, Sex Variants: A Study in Homosexual Patterns, which contains stories collected in the early twentieth century from queer subjects by a queer researcher, Jan Gay, whose groundbreaking work was then co-opted by a committee, her name buried. As Juan waits for his end, he and the narrator trade stories―moments of joy and oblivion―and resurrect lost loves, lives, mothers, fathers, minor heroes. The past is with us, beside us, ahead of us; what are we to create from its gaps and erasures?
Inspired by Kiss of the Spider Woman, Pedro Páramo, Voodoo Macbeth, the book at its own center and the woman who created it, oral histories, and many more texts, images, and influences, Justin Torres's Blackouts is a work of fiction that sees through the inventions of history and narrative. An extraordinary work of creative imagination, it insists that we look long and steady at the world we have inherited and the world we have made―a world full of ghostly shadows and flashing moments of truth.