The narrator of Andrew Holleran’s new novel tells the reader everything he wants to reveal about himself but doesn’t tell us his name. He lives alone in a house in a small town in Florida called Hawthorne that’s regularly visited by frogs and lizards, as well as other, more exotic, species. He is gay and somewhat cultivated, with quotations from writers as diverse as Henry James and George Santayana at his command. He has friends in the nearby city of Gainesville, Patrick and Luke, whom he sees occasionally. Patrick, in fact, is the only character in The Kingdom of Sand who would seem to be in a stable gay relationship. Patrick also does charitable work for the homeless. He’s described with a measure of envy by the loveless, ageing man whose memoir this is.
The epigraph to this accomplished, disturbing book, Holleran’s first novel since 2006, comes from St Benedict: ‘Keep death daily before your eyes.’ Holleran’s storyteller certainly heeds the saint’s advice in the pages that follow. What becomes clear as the novel unfolds is that the narrator almost relishes his