A love affair
Gregory Burgess is a young and extremely attractive New Yorker. Many men tall in love with him, among them the narrator oi Horse Crazy, Gary lndiana’s new novel. Gregory, however, does have a lew problems. He’s a iormer heroin addict, and may still be dabbling in drugs. He doesn't always tell the truth, to put it mildly, and he likes playing his lriends off against each other. In short, he’s a complete shit. (Also, he wears a nose-ring, which put me on him lrom the start.)
In restrained, perceptive prose, Horse Crazy charts the course oi the narrator's celibate relationship with Gregory, lrom charmed beginning, through a period oi doglike devotion, to the realisation that there is no hope oi a proper lriendship with a man whose willingness to come to terms with reality is almost non-existent.
While the book is about a gay love atlair, and the author himsell is a gay New Yorker, its painlully honest analysis oi a relationship is just as relevant to the most achingly straight oi heterosexuals. ‘lt’s not an attempt to write the AIDS novel or the gay book,’ says Indiana. ‘It has been reviewed in terms oi the gay subject matter, but it could just as easily be a heterosexual story in many ways.‘
Based largely in New York’s gay community, Horse Crazy nonetheless takes place in what the publicity lorthe book describes as ‘the non-disco real world’. While many books about relationships or revered characters — Lolita and Le Grand Meaulnes, Ior example — build up all manner oi mysteries about the central subject, Horse Crazy adopts the opposite approach, stripping away the superiicially glamorous aspects oi Gregory until he is revealed as a somewhat sad sociopath.
Whether or not Gregory is still on drugs remains unclear. ‘I wanted to leave that up in the air,’ says Indiana. ‘The title could be construed as a drugs reierence,’ - ‘horse’ being slang ior heroin- ‘but what I really wanted was something that sounded a bit cheap and sleazy. It was going to be called Dick Crazy until we realised that the New York Times wouldn’t take advertising ior it.’
AIDS, oi course, looms large; several oi the narrator’s friends have died oi it, and others are about to. The passages in which the narrator visits a iormer lover oi his in hospital are among the most sensitively understated in the novel. The politics oi the book leave Indiana in a dilemma: he reluses, quite correctly, to be stereotyped as a ‘gay writer’ (‘I think it’s Ditto have gay sections in bookshops, but they should have straight sections too, labelled as such’), but is also acutely aware oi the need to present positive images oi homosexuality. ’lt’s important ior people to make work that can cross over,’ he says, ‘because it promotes understanding. l’m happy it people see that the book does have validity as a social document, but I don’t want the literary side at the book to be ignored. It’s a novel, not a piece oi journalism.’ (Stuart Bathgate)
Horse Crazy by Gary Indiana is published by Paladin, hardback £12.99, paperback £4.50.
This volume covers the years 1941-48. which saw Johnson emerge from the wilderness ofTexan politics, create a myth about his strictly limited war record. lay the foundations for a money-spinning radio empire, and literally steal the 19-18 Senate election.
Caro‘s style is no-nonsense, and packed with intricate research, but when he describes the events ofthe 1948 election with Johnson up against the saintly folk-hero Coke Stevenson, straight history becomes more outlandish than fiction ever could be. An astonishing story from a fascinating biography. (Tom Lappin)
POETRY ELOGUENT EPITAPH
I A New Path To The Waterlall Raymond Carver (Collins Harvill £5.95) Gritty. economical realist that he was, one does not think of Raymond Carver as a poet. But this collection. completed shortly before his death in 1988, is the most lyrical, eloquent epitaph he could have left for himself. The poems have about them a tranquillity which is missing from the stories, and one has the impression that Carver is relieved to dispense with the emotional turmoil of fighting for his life. The feel is optimistic. the inspiration a love of learning and literature. Some excerpts from Chekhov are included, reminding us that Carver took pride
in his title ‘The American Chekhov’.
Above all, A New Path to the Waterfall is a very touching tribute to Carver‘s wife. Tess Gallagher, who put a tremendous amount ofwork into helping him complete the book. and whose introduction provides an insight into Carver‘s life which makes one feel all the sadder at his early death. (Miranda France)
I The Ice-Cream Bicycle Alexander McCall-Smith (Viking. £4.50). Goggle-Eyes Anne Fine (Puffin, £2.50) ‘There were many bicycles in Misipo‘s town. but not one of them was as special as the ice-cream bicycle.‘ The bicycle. which belongs to Misipo‘s uncle. is used to sell cool reliefto the African people, but when left in Misipo‘s trust. is stolen. So, when the police cannot help. Misipo and his friend Sepo must retrieve it. A we11~written and original re-working of a standard storyline, The Ice-Cream Bicycle will keep younger children captivated and, although the illustrations are weak, the big, bold print and sturdy hard-back cover guarantee it a long-life.
For older children comes the tale of Kitty who believes that her divorced mother has made one big mistake in choosing Gerald Faulkner, whom she quickly renames Goggle-Eyes, as her new boyfriend. Against the CND movement which the family support so staunchly, promoting the
86 mber 1990
foreign concept of an ordered household. always prepared with a better way of doing things and taking up so much of her mother‘s time. she quickly decides to dislike him. But. through a series ofevents culminating with her mother‘s arrest at a CND demonstration, Kitty and Goggle-Eyes learn to understand each other, her opinions change and peace is restored. Well-paced and humorous. Goggle-Eyes has a lot to say to children in similar positions but a little more could be made of the fact that sacrifices have to be made on both sides and parents aren‘t always right. (Susan Mackenzie)
I WRITING TOGETHER Wed lZ—Sun 23 Sept. Two-week festival of multi-cultural events with an international guest-list. Unless otherwise stated. all events take place at The Arches Theatre. Glasgow‘s Glasgow. Jamaica Street. For further information contact 041 226 3431.
Launches and Lunches Tron Theatre. 63 Tron Gate. 552 4267. 12.15pm. Plus live entertainment.
Kaiser Haq 1—2pm. Bangladeshi poet. teacher. soldier and translator reads from his work.
Azouz Begag Castlemilk Public Library. 100 (‘astlemilk Drive. 634
2066. 7.30pm. French-Algerian novelist reads from his work and discusses the impact of race and class on it.
Andrew Greig 1—2pm. Writer. poet and climber reads from his work. Evening Heading Hillhead Public Library. 348 Byres Road, 339 7223. 7pm. Hosted by ()pen Circle Group and featuring Canadian novelist Ray Smith and Scottish Writer Moira Burgess.
Race, Class, Culture and Empire Glasgow City Chambers. 221 9600. 7.30pm. Debate hosted by the Scottish International Labour Council with contributions from Sudanese Taban I.o Liyong. French-Algerian Azouz Begag. Indian Dilip Kaur 'l‘iwana. Pakistani Rafiq Ahmed Warraich and Scot Angus Calder.
Chidren‘s Calligraphy Demonstrations Art Gallery and Museum. Kelvingrove (Animal Hall). 357 3929. 1—4pm.
Gateel Shipai l—2pm. Urdu reading from Pakistani writer. editor and songwriter.
Ama Ata Aidoo (‘astlemilk Public Library. 100 Castlemilk Drive. 634 2066. 10am. Children's Storytelling with Ghanian Aidoo.
Dilip KaurTiwana and Khuswani Singh lbrox Public Library, Midlock Street. 427 5831. 11am. Readings in Punjabi and English from women's and children‘s writer Dilip Kaur Tiwana and writer and journalist Khuswant Singh.
Children's Calligraphy Demonstrations 3.45—5.45pm. See Sat 15.
Chapman Magazine Celebrates A day celebrating 20 years ofpublishing which considers Scottish contemporary writing and includes appearances from lain Critchon Smith and Khushwant Singh.
The Chapman Ceilidh Riverside Club. 222 Clyde Street. 248 3144. 8pm. Featuring poet Aonghas MacNeacail.
Iain Critchon Smith 1—2pm. Scottish—Gaelic poet and novelist reading from his work.
A Ghanian Event Maryhill Central Halls. 2pm. Sudanese Taban Lo Liyong and Ghanian Ama Ata Aidoo debate race, class. culture and writing. Hosted by the Ghana Welfare Association. Tel Jonathan Squires on 041 334 8866 for details. Mon 17
Lunchtime Heading I—me. Nuala Ni Dhomnaill. Valerie Thornton and Catherine Orr take part in this Writing Together and Women 2000 joint project.
Ama Ata Aidoo Annexe Writers Group. 37 Otago Street. 7.30pm. Evening discussion.
Him and SCDiCh 7.30pm. Caribbean James Berry joins Scot Aonghas MacNeacail for an evening of poetry andsong. Tue18
Lunchtime Heading 1—2pm. Aonghas