With I Can Give You Anything but Love, Gary Indiana has composed a literary, unabashedly wicked, and revealing montage of excursions into his life and work—from his early days growing up gay in rural New Hampshire to his escape to Haight-Ashbury in the post–summer-of-love era, the sweltering 1970s in Los Angeles, and ultimately his existence in New York in the 1980s as a bona fide downtown personality. Interspersed throughout his vivid recollections are present-day chapters set against the louche culture and raw sexuality of Cuba, where he has lived and worked occasionally for the past fifteen years. Connoisseurs will recognize in this—his most personal book yet—the same mixture of humor and realism, philosophy and immediacy, that have long confused the definitions of genre applied to his writing. Vivid, atmospheric, revealing, and entertaining, this is an engrossing read and a serious contribution to the genres of gay and literary memoir.
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I Can Give You Anything But Love
By Gary Indiana
Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2015 Gary Indiana
All rights reserved.
This afternoon Abdul showed up at my apartment on Calle 21 y G. In the door's judas eye I made out a sweat-beaded face from an old photo, scarily close and unexpected, like a sea monster humping a periscope. At first I couldn't tell if he was Abdul or another mulatto who boned me a few times a thousand years ago, when the skin market assembled at night by the Fiat garage on the Malecón. The other guy went loco the summer a drug shipment slipped past the coast guard and flooded Havana with cocaine. Before that, even a little weed was a shrieking rarity. By September, jineteros were burgling houses for coke money and banging clients in apartment-house doorways.
After an inevitable crackdown, gay rights groups in El Norte denounced the Castro regime's repressive measures. The Castro regime can piss up a rope, but some repressive measures are understandable. Nightlife shifted up La Rampa and the hustlers took over the cafeteria at 23 y G, a block from where I am now. Then when I was away for seven years the scene trickled back to the Malecón. The Bim Bom cafeteria at La Rampa and Infante is homo central these days. The old Fiat dealership has become a spruced-up café serving breakfast at sidewalk tables.
I wouldn't want to see the cokehead again. I didn't feature seeing Abdul much, either. I don't like people showing up here uninvited. It's important to maintain boundaries. Besides that, Abdul is a pig. A harmless pig, but a pig all the same. I thought to keep the barred security door between us, then realized it wasn't locked.
"I saw you last night at Bim Bom," he said, flicking the door latch and slipping into the salon. He attempted a hug. I slid out of reach and steered him out to the terrace.
"I followed you up here," he proudly revealed, "but it was dark."
I wasn't sure what he meant by that, exactly. People like Abdul have eyes that see in the dark with the accuracy of night-vision goggles. For that matter, they could pick up your location anywhere in Havana as if your wallet was sending a GPS signal. Some would mistake this for tropical exuberance run awry. Worse, people like Abdul expect congratulations for raping your privacy.
Abdul is an attractive man, now in his thirties. In the US or Europe, he could model underpants for Calvin Klein. There is nothing overtly crass or desperate about him. Still, in days of old, he was full of crude calculation, an annoying self-assurance that emanated from his prick. That hadn't changed, either.
"Why not say something instead of following me?"
He strode to the edge of the terrace and pointed to the Parque Victor Hugo across from the Romanian embassy.
"I would have! A police stopped me, over there."
Like all Havanans, Abdul refers to law enforcement officers using the indefinite article, as one speaks of an invasive plant species.
Excerpted from I Can Give You Anything But Love by Gary Indiana. Copyright © 2015 Gary Indiana. Excerpted by permission of Rizzoli International Publications, Inc..
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