Short Reviews of Books and Films
By Paul Monette
was the first Paul Monette I read. I found it on a trestle
of cheap books at a second-hand bookshop in Rondebosch in Cape Town, and was astounded. In those days, there was
censorship in South Africa. A book sympathetic to gays; more, one which
took gayness and the whole range of gay-shadedness for granted - this
was indeed subversive.
It's a marvellous story; a very exciting
thriller; a masterly novel exploring the way relationships
and develop; a couple of interleaved romances; an exploration of the
difference and complementarity between love and lust; and a
good yarn as well. It's also very funny in places, perhaps
the sunniest of Monette's novels.
goes west to stay with her best friend Peter, a White Russian
prince, whose husband Nick is sleeping with Sam on the
side, but not because he loves Sam. Well, not
Rita falls in love with Nick, as Peter expected. And Nick
well, read it yourself and see. Meanwhile, Sam is very much
what he seems, and he has a past.
As does their house, and their houseboy.
humane, insightful, moving, beautifully written, unputdownable - I cannot recommend it
is the original cover, much worn from frequent rereadings, as you can
see. Stavrinos, the cover illustrator, produced some
drawings of gay men before dying in 1990 of AIDS. Paul
died of the disease in 1995. So many heartbreaking losses.
Aerodynamics of Pork
By Patrick Gale
unfair that Patrick Gale should have written such a polished, mature,
superb, readable first novel, when he was also extraordinarily
the jacket photo is to be believed), and only in his
As Gale often does, he uses the device of two different story lines,
which intersect only at the end. InThe
Facts of Life, for example, it's almost as if there are
two separate novels; in Rough
the threads are separated by time but there is an aha! moment at the
when you see how they link. Alert readers will notice that Rough Music, set
in Cornwall as The
Aerodynamics of Pork also (partly) is, has two characters
in common with Aerodynamics.
is a child-prodigy violinist and as randy as any teenager, looking for
as much sex
with men as he can. Instead he finds the love of his life.
Mo is a lesbian policewoman who is despised by her male
colleagues and the police hierarchy. Both story threads are
entrancing and enchanting. Gale cleverly weaves the two
via a series of violent attacks on newspaper astrologers which Mo is
Most first novels have faults and
infelicities. This is one of those rarities: it has
Read it, and if you are writer, envy the consummate
grace and compassion with which he manipulates his characters, dialogue
and plot. If you
are not, simply enjoy its richness and vigour and charm.
I've attached the original cover (from my own copy) because I detest
the new version.
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