Changes in Life
Tim Halladay seems to have it all. He is vice president of an ad agncy (the first he interviwed with), he is the toast of Madison Avenue and he has achieved a great deal in only five years. He has taken over some of the most prestigious accounts of the 1970s. But then… a week before Thanksgiving everything changed and after spending a night of booze and sex, he gets to work late and is fired with no explanation. He was low on cash and could not even pay his rent and he knows that he must find a way to deal with his lack of a job. He begins to think back on his life—his unstable childhood, his time in the military, his high school affair with Karen, his girlfriend, his college education at William and Mary, his move to New York and his first advertising job and of himself as a closeted gay man in that period when Stonewall became a symbol of liberation.
We get to know Tim intimately here and he is an unforgettable character, a man whose past is part of his present and how at 27 years old his life is in shambles. Something in his past is holding him back and he can’t quite understand what it is. As a gay man of course, I see it as his inability to accept himself as gay but there are other factors too. He cannot seem to hold a friendship and does not want to become involved in any and he enjoys being lonely.
When Tim loses his job, he can go one of two ways—he can either find strength and do something about it or he can be totally defeated. We would hope that the former is the case and that he would take control of himself and his life. What he did not know was how to have fun and enjoy people and this is probably his greatest fault.
Reading this book is taking a step back in time. We see the advertising world of New York of the ‘70’s, a time when materialism and drinking were Tim’s priorities. When he is fired from his job, Tim is lost but Baker presents him with a wry sense of humor and the memories of the era take center stage along with the unhappy and lonely Tim.
The other major character in the book is New York City and we are reminded of the fun places that were there. What makes this book different from others like it is that it is written from the point of view of a closeted gay man and the inability to let go of his painful past. He was never supported emotionally by his parents who if they did not approve of something and were vocal about it, they remained silent.
Because I actually grew to like Tim, I wanted him to triumph over adversity; to pick up the pieces of his life and move forward. He is a smart guy with good common sense and he tells us that he is good-looking. However, Tim retreats from the world and feels he is losing control of himself. He is a torn man standing with a foot each in two worlds and his struggle is not so foreign to many of us. To find out which way he goes you will have to read the book and I tell you that it is an enjoyable read.