We found Armistad Maupin's The Night Listener just about as close to unreadable as it gets. The memory is still vivid, lumbering through the first 25 or 30 artless pages in a Santa Monica restaurant and finally tossing it aside with disgust. As we walked out of the restaurant sans book, we were chased down by a helpful waiter trying to return. "All yours," we muttered. "Knock yourself out." All of which is a long way of saying we don't expect to be going to see the film version, which is presently upon us.
After falling for an elaborate hoax -- one that had all the trappings of a ``Psycho'' or a fake Howard Hughes autobiography -- San Francisco's Armistead Maupin was determined to have the last word.
In 2000, he published a novel about a gay radio host who falls under the spell of a phone voice that may or may not belong to an abused 14-year-old boy, who may or may not be dying of AIDS . . . and who may or may not have written a memoir detailing his experiences as sex slave.
That novel, ``The Night Listener,'' is now a movie starring Robin Williams. Like the book, it's inspired by phone conversations Maupin had with someone who claimed to be Anthony Godby Johnson, teen author of the bestselling memoir ``A Rock and a Hard Place.''