LOVE AND DEATH ON LONG ISLAND
by Gilbert Adair
Published by Minerva
This novel might be described as a gay Lolita, or more properly a modern Death in Venice. The tile seems to hint at this connection, and while the main character does finally meet and speak to the object of his desire, the same fruitless ending follows.
Giles is a middle-aged writer who lives in near seclusion. On impulse he goes to the cinema complex to see a film of a Forster novel. He goes to the wrong cinema and sees instead Hotpants College II, and falles hopelessly in love with Ronnie Bostock, one of the stars.
Giles embarks on a search for details of his beloved. He discovers Teen Dream Boat and other fan magazines. He even enters the world of video rental. Then he finds himself pushed to buy Toy Boy and superimpose the head of Ronnie on the nakes bodies from the flesh mag. When he reads that Ronnie is to wed, he goes in desperation to the States to meet him. This he finally manages, and flatters Ronnie with an intellectual analysis of the crap films he stars in. When he does finally declare himself to Ronnie, he is rebuffed.
The novel is told in beautiful spare prose, and (contrary to what this brief outline might indicate) it is funny and amusing. Adair, who is an accomplished film commentator and author of Hollywood’s Vietnam, manages to filter the world of cinema through innocent eyes, and this shed new light on it.
the obsessive nature of love is superbly captured, and this (Gile’s declaration to Ronnie) captures the style:
I found myself clinging to his wrist, to his hand, holding him back to then, in a fierce whisper, forcing frommyself the inevitable,: irreplaceable words, hackneyed and sacre d’I love you!’
When Ronnie has left, he wonders:
Dear God, I said to myelf, what have I done?
This short book says more in its space than many an overweight ‘page-turner’. It will appeal for its fine handling of a gay theme with poise and humour, while not flinching from the pathos that lies at the heart of so much love.