Monday, August 22, 2011

David Leavitt: The Page Turner

A present from my cousin in Dublin, who always gives me books. I'd never heard of this and after glancing at the cover asked her sceptically if this wasn't terribly sentimental, but she said no no. I think after reading it I'd say yes, yes. It gets great reviews according to the back, not just from The Gay Times but from more, shall we say, independent press too. But me, I don't really get it.

Sure, it's well written, like. Well, not bad. I mean, maybe a bit too much creative writing workshop over it for my liking, but hey. However, story: A young musician, Paul, is introduced to the world-famous pianist Richard Kennington when he agrees to turn the pages of the music score at a concert in San Fransisco. A few months later they meet again in Italy, and Kennington quite abruptly seduces Paul. They have a brief affair under the nose of Paul's mother, and then Kennington leaves without saying good-bye. When Paul starts school in New York their paths cross again.

First of all - I may be the wrong target audience, but this gay fantasy of young gorgeous men just panting to be seduced by and introduced to the arts of luuuurve by middle-aged (or older!) stooges just rubs me so much the wrong way. Had this been about a heterosexual affair I would have just gagged at the wishful thinking and unpleasantly cradle-snatching-like leanings and put the book down. But just 'coz it's two guys doesn't really make it any less cringe-worthy. Right. Secondly, it's all about first love, being let down, realizing that you're not actually good enough to be the great star you thought you were going to be and coming to terms with that - but it's curiously anaemic and shallow about these deep and life-shattering ideas. All very airy and kicking autumn leaves in Central Park with a jumper over my shoulders and my hair perfectly coiffed. It's reminding me of a film I think, but I can't think which one. Late 80s I think, one of those with more style-of-the-times flair than real feeling (in retrospect), slightly muted colours .... Annoying that I can't put my finger on it! This blogger, The Jade Sphinx, puts it nicely: Leavitt seems to think that less is more when it can just be simply ... less. Thank you for that turn of phrase! Curiously disappointing and empty, in my opinion. Bizarre.

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