Author Lee Houck’s debut novel, Yield, is an intriguing story about a year in the life of a young hustler from New York City who, after fate intervenes, decides to reexamine his life, profession, and his relationships with friends and other acquaintances.
Simon, a twenty-something file clerk by day, turns tricks in his spare time to supplement his income. His colorful circle of friends includes Louis, a Calvin Klein underwear model; Farmer, the resident geek and voice of reason; and the neurotic Jaron, who suffers from an eating disorder and is a cutter. Despite their bickering and bantering, these four young men rely, depend upon, and never judge each other.
Simon and Louis’s friendship is put to the ultimate test when they fall victim to a gay bashing. Louis is beaten so badly that it costs him his career, while Simon, who took him in while he recovered, grows concerned when his depressed friend becomes a recluse. Furthermore, Simon is even less prepared when he falls for a client, Aiden, a well-intentioned young hunk who lives nearby and doesn’t mind having to pay for quality time together.
Although it is Simon’s story, each of the characters has his own private journey of self-discovery. While his external wounds heal, Louis confronts his own internal demons. Jaron has a self-inflicted near-death experience that leaves with him no choice but to mend his ways. Even one of Simon’s regulars, the wealthy, eccentric Mr. Bartlett, has an epiphany of sorts.
Houck has crafted Simon as a sex worker who is unapologetic, surprisingly self aware, and not to be pitied. It is not the threat of violence or even the money that causes him to question his line of work, but rather the potential to find and express love and affection.
The author’s writing also effectively conveys the unbreakable bond these four friends share, and their unconditional acceptance and support of one another is both apparent and profound. Each male is broken in his own way, but Houck’s prose, speaking as Simon, purposefully reminds the reader that these characters have the advantage of youth, and each other, to help overcome any obstacles.
Yield is an original, unconventional coming-of-age novel from a promising new novelist.
Publisher: Kensington. Publication Date: September 1, 2010. Pages: 352. Price: $15. ISBN-13: 978-0-758-242-655