PERSONAL: Male. Hobbies and other interests: Eastern cultures.
ADDRESSES: Home—Virginia. Agent—c/o Putnam, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.
Blues for Hannah, Crown (New York, NY), 1998.
The Monk Downstairs, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 2002.
(Under pseudonym Frank Devlin) Love in All the Wrong Places, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.
Lizzie's War, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Tim Farrington's novel The California Book of the Dead is based on his time in California during the 1980s, including his experiences in communes and ashrams. The novel's characters share an apartment together in 1990s San Francisco during their spiritual and personal quests. The main character, Marlowe, is a struggling artist questioning her sexual orientation and grieving for her recently deceased best friend. Daa, Marlowe's lover of several years, is a transplant from the Midwest. Marlowe sleeps with and becomes pregnant by a new roommate. While Daa forgives Marlowe, the new roommate seduces another arrival to the apartment, Marlowe's young and naive cousin Sheba. According to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, the author compares death and destruction to the characters' search for spiritual fulfillment. Farrington incorporates a real incident involving a guru who intentionally infected followers with the virus that causes AIDS. Molly Gorman, reviewing The California Book of the Dead in the Library Journal, maintained that Farrington accurately depicts the characters' California soul searching, particularly in his descriptions of the apartment and everyday life, and called the work a "humorous debut." Booklist contributor Whitney Scott deemed the novel to be "one enjoyable book." A Publishers Weekly reviewer found the conclusion "disappointing and emotionally off-key," but called the work "amiable and well written" as a whole.
Farrington's Blues for Hannah features a struggling artist who is forced to face his past when he must identify the body of a former lover. Jeremiah and the recently deceased Hannah had a sporadic relationship and were the parents of a son, Sammy. Farrington contrasts Jeremiah's tumultuous relationship with Hannah to Jeremiah's more stable relationship with his current wife, college sweetheart LeeAnne. This "shift between past and present creates suspense," wrote Molly Gorman in the Library Journal. Although Jeremiah's infidelity creates problems in their relationship, LeeAnne and Jeremiah struggle to mend their marriage and eventually decide to raise Sammy. While Gorman found Farrington's writing disjointed at times, she praised Farrington's depiction of the subtleties of love. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commended the author for effectively portraying the stages of life and called the book "a memorable, refreshingly lucid expedition across two decades and vast terrains of human connection."
Farrington's Lizzie's War takes place during the Vietnam War and draws parallels between the battles of love and war through the story of Mike and Liz O'Reilly. The two struggle to keep their marriage together despite the cultural forces that drive them apart, not the least of which is Mike's dedication to the U.S. Marines. As Mike faces combat in Vietnam, Liz braves the Detroit riots of 1967 while raising their four children alone, constantly fearing for her husband's safety and trusting in her Catholic faith. When she suffers a near miscarriage and is told her unborn baby is likely to be stillborn, she does not tell her husband. Instead, the child is born alive and Liz is comforted by a priest, a Vietnam veteran himself, who eases her pain as the baby does indeed die. When Mike returns stateside, both he and Liz find it difficult to comes to terms with all that has happened during their separation. "Farrington weaves themes of faith and divine love into the texture of his novel," wrote Betty Smartt Carter in Books & Culture. Library Journal critic Andrea Tarr called Lizzie's War a "poetic and tender book" that explores many of the social issues brought to the forefront during the late 1960s.
Farrington adopted the pseudonym Frank Devlin for his novel Love in All the Wrong Places, which features detective Rose Burke tracking down a husband-and-wife serial-killing team in San Francisco. Burke, whose marriage is in trouble, finds her midlife crisis complicated by pregnancy, the memory of her dead partner, and her new partner's growing attraction to her. Meanwhile, the killers, a depressed housemaker named Helen who beguiles men into having one-night stands, and her husband, who does the dirty work of disposing of the men afterward, prove worthy adversaries for Burke. Critics enjoyed Farrington's sympathetic portrayal of ambivalent female characters, who "are fascinating and somewhat disquieting to watch in action," wrote a critic for Publishers Weekly. A critic for Kirkus Reviews complimented Farrington's writing, saying that it "has the sensitivity to make you care about even his most unlovable characters."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 1, 1997, Whitney Scott, review of The California Book of the Dead, p. 1478; March 15, 1998, review of Blues for Hannah, p. 1201; September 1, 2004, Frank Sennett, review of Love in All the Wrong Places, p. 68.
Books & Culture, July-August, 2005, Betty Smartt Carter, review of Lizzie's War, p. 9.
Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2004, review of Love in All the Wrong Places, p. 661.
Library Journal, April 1, 1997, Molly Gorman, review of The California Book of the Dead, p. 124; March 15, 1998, Molly Gorman, review of Blues for Hannah, p. 92; May 1, 2005, Andrea Tarr, review of Lizzie's War, p. 72.
Publishers Weekly, March 31, 1997, review of The California Book of the Dead, p. 62; April 13, 1998, review of Blues for Hannah, p. 50; August 23, 2004, review of Love in All the Wrong Places, p. 38; April 18, 2005, review of Lizzie's War, p. 45.