In this well-crafted second novel, Nick Broome, the youngest son of a Washington, D.C., family, is facing an existential crisis, namely, the demise of his nonprocreative clan's family name. He wants desperately to bring life into the world, envisioning a boy in a blue parka as his ideal son and even going so far as to make a deal with himself to make a baby within a year. Thirty-four-year-old Nick refuses to adopt because his lump of love must share his DNA, and the usual boy-meets-girl route is not open to him, for Nick is gay.
The bulk of the novel is a whirlwind tour of the world of artificial insemination and surrogacy. Nick's breeding quest takes him behind the door of sperm banks, where posters of European towers suggest phallic exuberance; when sperm collectors reject him, Nick tries to find a surrogate mother. His ads in the newspaper and on the Internet bring in, among others, a female escort, an angry teen and the unbalanced Nattie, whose brother, Joe, Nick meets in the mental hospital where Nattie has registered herself for a tuneup. Though Joe and Nick become lovers, he continues his search for a fertile vessel. His family is dying out, Nick believes, and he's doing nothing about it.
As the novel reaches its crescendo, Nick foolishly treats Joe like a son and flirts dangerously with a contract matchmaker named Lyle, eventually learning more about love and himself. Though the novel's method is at times tiresome and the humor at best tepid, Bayard manages to keep our interest in Broome's quest while teaching us a thing or two about the force that drives procreation.
Praise for Endangered Species
"Louis Bayard has written a nearly pitch-perfect tragicomedy."
—New York Times
"While what seems to make Bayard unique is his ability to create gay characters that pop out in full three dimensions, what makes Endangered Species appealing is a protagonist whose internal conflict becomes as engrossing to us as it is to him."