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Cathedral City

Cathedral City

by Gregory Hinton

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A splashy first novel explores sexual and cultural identity in a southern California desert town. Nestled between chic Palm Springs and the more rural farm communities of Indio and the Coachella Valley, Cathedral City has lost the outsider allure it once had. Long ago it was the anything-goes hangout for movie stars and gangsters visiting Palm Springs. Now Cathedral City is a shabby, ugly cousin to her desert neighbors: its main drag is about to be razed and replaced by a gleaming shopping center. The proposed demolition doesn't sit well with any of the story's many characters. Longtime lovers Kenny and Nick are icons for the area's large gay community, but Nick's decade-long bender drives Kenny into the arms of Maria, an illegal alien he rescued from sinister smugglers. Then there's Sam Singer, who owns the land occupied by Nick and Kenny's bar, as well as a lot of shacks housing poor, frightened, mostly illegal immigrants. Pressured to sell (with both money and violent tactics), Sam can't let go of the bar, which he once ran himself and which reminds him of a time when he and his clinically depressed wife, Ruthie, were happy. Also on hand are Ruthie's maid, Inez, whose ne'er-do-well husband has infected her with HIV; Pablo, a hustler with a heart of gold; and the parish priest, who has hidden his homosexuality under his clerical robes. Despite the parade of subplots ushered past the reader, Hinton, a producer and screenwriter (Getting It Right, etc.), manages to create a cohesive storyline as people slowly come to accept changes that will force their lives into unforeseen directions. Will Kenny run off with Maria? Will Nick's stay at Betty Ford do the trick? Will Ruthie's singingcomeback save the bar? Hinton, no sucker for happy endings, gives readers an inviting glimpse into the many social groups that meet but don't always mingle in Southern California. Not exactly high art, but solid entertainment.

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6.32(w) x 9.28(h) x 1.24(d)

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