PERSONAL: Born in Albuquerque, NM; children: two sons. Education: Princeton University, B.A.; Northwestern University, M.A.
CAREER: Writer, book reviewer, journalist. Worked as a congressional press secretary, a communications director, and a speechwriter.
AWARDS, HONORS: Nominee, Outstanding Newspaper Article, Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation, for Washington Post Magazine article, “Two Men and a Baby”; Notable Book, New York Times, and 10 Best Books for 2003, People magazine, for Mr. Timothy; Top 10 Historical Fiction Audio-books, Booklist, 2004, for Mr. Timothy.
Fool’s Errand, Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 1999.
Endangered Species, Alyson Books (Los Angeles, CA), 2001.
Mr. Timothy, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003.
The Pale Blue Eye, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor of articles to periodicals and online publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Washington DC City Paper, Ms., Salon.com, and Nerve.com. Contributor to anthologies, including The Worst Noel, HarperCollins, Maybe Baby, Harper-Collins, and 101 Damnations, St. Martin’s Press.
ADAPTATIONS: Mr. Timothy was adapted for audio-book, BBC/Sound, 2004;The Pale Blue Eye was adapted for audiobook, BBC.
SIDELIGHTS: Louis Bayard is a journalist and novelist whose fiction ranges from light, contemporary tales of gay men in Washington DC, to dark historical reconstructions, including Mr. Timothy and The Pale Blue Eye. Bayard’s first novel, Fool’s Errand, features thirty-ish Patrick Beaton who is looking for love in Washington, DC. The object of his desires is Scottie, a man he met only briefly; or, in fact, did he? Patrick begins to wonder if the meeting was real or simply in his mind. Library Journal reviewer Christopher Koranowsky called this debut novel “darkly comic,” and concluded that it was a “pleasant read for all audiences.”Lambda Book Report reviewer Bill Mann similarly praised Bayard’s “considerable skill with dialogue,” while a contributor for Publishers Weekly found Fool’s Errand both “accomplished,” and “a witty romantic comedy.” A similar humorous tone informs Bayard’s second novel, Endangered Species, in which a gay man, Nick Broome, decides to do something about the fact that his family line will die off with his generation. With siblings who do not procreate, Nick takes it on himself to continue the family line with comic consequences. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt this was a “well-crafted” work, and that Bayard manages to inform the reader “about the force that drives procreation.”Booklist writer Whitney Scott felt “Bayard’s gently touching humor helps the novel stay the course,” and Peter Marcus, writing in the Gay & Lesbian Review recommended the novel as a “mostly pleasurable reading experience.”
Bayard provides a change of pace with his next two novels, both set in the nineteenth century. Mr. Timothy is an “inventive updating” of the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, according to Booklist contributor Bill Ott. The reader finds Tiny Tim now in his twenties and residing in a brothel, where he teaches the ladies how to read. His aimless life takes sudden direction, however, when he tackles a child porn ring in an attempt to save a young girl he has befriended. Though Ott felt the “transition from character study to historical thriller is a bit awkward,” he went on to call the work “first-rate entertainment.” Similar positive remarks came from many critics. Reviewing the novel in Bookreporter.com, Kate Ayers found it a “combination of droll wit, sidelong glances at 19th-century London and headlong suspense.” For Bookseller contributor Lizzie Ludlow it was a “disturbing thriller,” while Entertainment Weekly contributor Rebecca Ascher-Walsh thought it was a “fabulous Victorian mystery.” Likewise, a Publishers Weekly reviewer felt Mr. Timothy was “an audacious and triumphant entertainment,” and Bella Stande, writing in People called the same work a “dazzling blend of literary fiction and white-knuckle thriller.”
In The Pale Blue Eye, Bayard concocts a mystery in which the young Edgar Allan Poe plays detective. Poe, a cadet at West Point in 1830, helps a retired New York City detective solve a grisly murder at the school. Library Journal reviewer Jo Ann Vicarel noted that the novel was “charmed by a skillful and lyrical writing style and the intrigue of West Point.” Further praise came from Salon.com contributor Laura Miller, who felt the novel was a “a fond, often funny, but also unvarnished portrait of the real Poe.” Miller also commended “Bayard’s prose [which] flows like silk, weightless but enveloping, and never shows its seams.” For a Kirkus Reviews critic The Pale Blue Eye was a “literary tour de force,” and a reviewer for Publishers Weekly found it “an intense and gripping novel.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Booklist, April 1, 2001, Whitney Scott, review of Endangered Species, p. 1446; November 15, 2003, Bill Ott, review of Mr. Timothy, p. 579; May 15, 2004, Joyce Saricks, “Top 10 Historical Fiction Audiobooks,” p. 1637.
Bookseller, June 17, 2005, Lizzie Ludlow, review of Mr. Timothy, p. 13.
Entertainment Weekly, October 31, 2003, Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, review of Mr. Timothy, p. 79; May 26, 2006, “That’s So Raven,” review of The Pale Blue Eye, p. 108.
Gay & Lesbian Review, July, 2001, Peter Marcus, review of Endangered Species, p. 40.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2003, review of Mr. Timothy, p. 1138; May 1, 2006, review of The Pale Blue Eye, p. 424.
Lambda Book Report, July-August, 1999, Bill Mann, review of Fool’s Errand, p. 18.
Library Journal, January, 2000, Christopher Koranowsky, review of Fool’s Errand, p. 200; August, 2003, Barbara Love, review of Mr. Timothy, p. 127; May 1, 2006, Jo Ann Vicarel, review of The Pale Blue Eye, p. 67.
People, December 1, 2003, Bella Stande, review of Mr. Timothy, p. 49.
Publishers Weekly, May 17, 1999, review of Fool’s Errand, p. 57; April 2, 2001, review of Endangered Species, p. 39; September 15, 2003, review of Mr. Timothy, p. 40; April 10, 2006, review of The Pale Blue Eye, p. 43.
Spectator, December 11, 2004, Sophie Lewis, review of Mr. Timothy, p. 44.
HarperCollins Web site, http://www.harpercollins.com/ (November 13, 2006), “Louis Bayard.”
Louis Bayard Home Page, http://www.louisbayard.com (November 13, 2006).
Metro Weekly Online, http://www.metroweekly.com/ (May 25, 2006), Thomas Avila, review of The Pale Blue Eye.
Pop Matters, http://www.popmatters.com/ (February 24, 2004), Claire Zulkey, review of Mr. Timothy.