Slant is a novel a novel that affirms and denies itself in one word: cute. Everything seems to make it cute, the main character, James, 19 years old, is young, virgin, cute. But James will try everything to deny the cuteness of this incipit, almost becoming a dirty angel, trying to destroy his innocence. He is Chinese-American but he has a complex about his heritage, a complex that unfortunately is not without reason. He goes to MIT, he is clever and pretty, but he is always comparing himself to the next guy, and most time than not he comes out as the looser in his mind. Doesn’t matter that apparently James has no problem to hook up, when he first decides he wants a boyfriend he meets Stan, an waiter wanna-be artist, young and beautiful, but dangerous. Stan is a party animal and he drags James in a perilous path towards unprotected sex and use of drugs as recreational activity. But Stan is like a drug himself, and James seems unable to renounce to him. When Stan dumps him, James uses Michael to rebound. Michael was James’s friend, obviously smitten by James, and even if at the time he had another boyfriend, Michael would have been more than willing to break-up with his boyfriend for James.
James, Stan and Michael are so full of faults since they are so true. If you pick them up one by one, considering them and their actions, they all come out as faulty; Stan is so vain and careless that you should hate him, but in the end he has never forced James to do anything he didn’t want; Michael is caring and generous, but truth be told, I felt like he wanted a boy-toy more than a boyfriend; James has an analytical mind, but when he arrives to the boyfriend material, he is really able to commit the worst mistakes. But the faultiness of its characters it’s not at all a fault of the novel, on the contrary, it’s probably what it makes the novel so good.
The novel doesn’t have a traditional happily ever after, but it has hope, James will manage to reconcile with his heritage and in that way he will be able to accept himself; accepting himself, he will be probably able to really start his life, something that, in Slant, he has not really yet done.