The Salt Point

Paul Russell, Author
Paul Russell, Author Dutton Books $18.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-525-24832-3
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
A salt point is the place in a river where it turns into an estuary, switching from fresh to salt water. ``It's always changing,'' observes a character in this provocative novel. ``You can't exactly fix it, but it's there, a point. But it's never the same.'' So shifts the delicate balance among the weary friends and lovers in this accomplished story, until the appearance of Leigh, a gorgeous teenaged hustler, transforms everything. ``Our Boy of the Mall'' becomes the object of desire for Anatole, a gay hairdresser; for Lydia, his friend, who doesn't like to think of herself as a fag hag; and for Christopher, an enigmatic bisexual who thus far has kept both Anatole and Lydia in thrall. All three, in their 20s, dependent on booze and drugs, are restless about the pointlessness of life in Poughkeepsie. Leigh moves in with Anatole, but then begins an affair with Lydia; discovering the betrayal, Anatole remains obsessed with Leigh's insouciant splendor. ``That's why I keep him . . . because he wears Reeboks with a sort of genius.'' As their lives unravel, each unhappy character must face his own aloneness, except for Leigh, who will go on to bigger and better prey. Graphic homosexual encounters combined with some graceful writing might remind readers of Edmund White, although Russell doesn't aim to be quite so literary. (Mar.)
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