There should be a genre called “haunting and beautiful.” I would definitely put Dust Devil on a Quiet Street by Richard Bowes into that category. While it has some (very) minor fantasy elements –possible ghosts, telepathy, a soul imprisoned in amber, and feline genes – it is more a novel about one man’s life. It is haunting to me not because of any fantasy elements, but because it does such a good job of capturing poignant moments. While the main character is a gay, former drug addict who lives in Manhattan (none of which describes me), most of the time I could easily identify with him. Much of the novel deals with universal experiences: losing friends, aging, coping with tragedy, celebrating friendship, and nurturing the next generation.
Dust Devils on a Quiet Street is written in a style that I am coming across more and more often, a hybrid between a series of stories and a traditional novel. Two of the chapters/stories especially touched me. The first was the opening chapter, which takes place on 9/11. The main character does his best to deal with his own sense of loss, while comforting those who look to him for a sense of stability. The second story that moved me involves the narrator coming close to the brink of suicide and being gently brought back. Be aware that some of the novel deals with the exploitation of young gay men, which while not particularly graphic is disturbing.
I sometimes talk about wanting novels to represent us to future generation, and I think Dust Devils on a Quiet Street does a good job of taking some snapshots of the opening days of 9/11 and of the beginning of the AIDs epidemic. While the novel was nominated for the 2014 World Fantasy Award, I wish it had received more recognition, so that more people would be moved to read it. It certainly touched my heart.