Saturday, January 29, 2005
I 'm home this morning getting prepared for it all--laundry's in the dryer and bread's baking. Until next Friday, I'll be home just to feed the cat, sleep, feed the cat again (priorities! priorities!) and head back to work. Just to make it all the more complicated, the new term starts Monday, and I teach two classes this spring.
So I got out of town on Thursday afternoon and headed up to Fritz's. He has within him the amazing quality to wrap me in his arms and somehow all my tensions, all the frustrations, upsets, disappointments of of life just fade away. Gone. I don't know how he does it but I noticed very early in our relationship that he's a healer. (Now, if he could just make this damn lung congestion go away!) We spent the evening watching the sweet little Australian gay romance "The Sum of Us" with the very young Russell Crowe.
Oh, and thanks to those of you who wished me better health. I'm working on it.
Tuesday night I met with the gay book group guys, hosted in a penthouse condo with stunning views of the Zakim Bridge, the graceful new symbol of Boston. The book was the current international hit, "The Line of Beauty" by Alan Hollinghurst, the first gay-themed book, apparently, to win the top prize for fiction in England. I'm very grateful to these guys because they've got me reading good current fiction--left to my own devices I'd happily spend all my time with biography and history.
Hollinghurst (known for "The Swimming Pool Library") writes of the 1980s in England, the Thatcher years and the beginning of the AIDS crisis. His prose is extremely elegant but never artificial, he has a wicked sense of humor and sends up all the pretensions and out of control self-aggrandisement of the Thatcher years (read the Reagan years here) while charting the journey of a familiar British literary type, the boy from a middle-class background who gets attached by luck (and some careful pandering on his part) to an upper class family very close to the highest levels of government and society. Nick's sexual rise from personal ads to becoming the kept lover of one of the most beautiful, exotic, wealthy and "happening" boys in London climaxes at a 25th anniversary party where he dances with Thatcher herself. It then rather quickly descends to public revelations and exile from the family while his lover, dying from AIDS, goes off probably never to be seen again.
For all the seriousness of the theme, the book is actually a rolicking comedy much of the time and, as Nick is a survivor, the ending is a possible door opening to new things rather than simply slamming shut in despair. Hollinghurst writes in the Henry James tradition and once you get into his style, it quickly becomes a page-turner.
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