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David Leavitt's first work of fiction sinceWhile England Sleeps, these novellas explore the themes of escape and exile. By turns comical, lyrical, and speculative, they testify to the redemptive capacities of both the human heart and the literary spirit. First serial to Esquire. 224 pp. National ads. Author tour. 25,000 print.
In "The Wooden Anniversary" Nathan and Celia are reunited after a five-year separation, and almost immediately misunderstand one another again. Celia, desperately in love with Nathan (who is gay) for many years, having finally pried herself away from him, has lost weight, gotten a husband, and become the proprietress of a successful cooking school in Tuscany. Nathan, "world weary and travel worn," becomes infatuated with Mauro, Celia's handsome young Italian chef, and out of simple lust, or boredom (and, perhaps, with the masochistic Celia's unconscious assistance) sets a devastating farce in motion. "Saturn Street" concerns Jerry, a young, deeply disaffected writer in Los Angeles who finds himself increasingly attracted to Phil, handsome, blithe, and dying of AIDS. Leavitt chillingly captures the sense of a devastated gay community in which everyone now "operates from fear." "The Term Paper Artist," the most troubling of the three novellas, plays some unsettling games with fact and fiction. The narrator, "David Leavitt," having been sued by an English poet for passages in his novel While England Sleeps, goes home to California, where he receives a bizarre offer from the handsome, amoral, heterosexual college-age son of family friends: He'll allow David to perform a sex act with him, if he writes a term paper of vital importance. David does so, word circulates, and he finds himself besieged by a variety of straight college boys willing to strike a similar bargain. There's an alarming sense of self-laceration in all this, not much redeemed by the suggestion that the sex (and the research on the papers) somehow stimulates David's hitherto exhausted creative energy.
Sad tales of anomie and of confused, contradictory quests for love.
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|The Wooden Anniversary||75|
Posted January 12, 2013
Enjoyed the read, there were a couple times where I wasn't sure who was who, but did get back into it after I got the characters down. Overall, I liked it and will buy another Leavitt novel or shorts. I've got several books of Leavitts.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 25, 2002
The last novella in the book broke my heart. The food delivery person falls in love with the AIDS patient and doesn't realize that he does love him, and consequently never tells the object of his affection about his feelings. The months that were wasted here made me cry! I couldn't figure out why he acted the way he did. And that's what made me enjoy this so much. It forced me to think. Would I have done the same thing faced with fear of disease, particularly AIDS? These three stories are top-drawer, but In Saturn Street is the best. It is a well-written novella. I hope to write something this moving and important someday.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 19, 2000
Purchased this book and took it on a recent trip. I finished the book before the plane landed. It was very entertaining, three separate stories. First book I purchased by this author. I intend to buy some of his other work. You will enjoy the stories. No real heavy issues...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.