Sumner Locke Elliott, Author
Sumner Locke Elliott, Author HarperCollins Publishers $17.95 (249p) ISBN 978-0-06-016221-4
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
Growing up gay in Sydney, Australia, on the eve of WW II is the subject of this mannered novel, Elliott's ninth ( Edens Lost ; Waiting for Childhood ), which ranges from tender lyricism to grotesque satire. Son of an aloof mother who idolized his dead hero father, Seaton Daly is orphaned young. Seduced by another schoolboy, Seaton moves from one tremulous, unsuccessful affair to the next. Structurally the novel focuses on a gallery of men for whom Seaton yearns: Byron the narcissistic actor; baby-faced Milly Dick in a pink apron, offering to share his horsey wife; the authoritarian Captain Smollett; the nameless tough who lures gays only to brutalize them. Having created the juvenile radio series Fairyfish , Seaton eventually visits America as a playwright--a phase that the story hastily skims. He is a character fixed at a level of naive sensitivity in a gay world delineated as treacherous and transient. The novel's stronger segments include celebrations of male identity in enclaves like the Marble Bar and Gomorrah, a subway men's room. The explosive denouement seems arbitrary and unheralded. (Mar.)
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