Pagan's Father

Michael Arditti, Author
Michael Arditti, Author Soho Press $24 (416p) ISBN 978-1-56947-062-6
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Paperback - 258 pages - 978-1-56947-183-8
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Published earlier this year in Britain as Pagan and Her Parents, Arditti's second novel is narrated by Leo Young, the gay male companion of a single mother who, upon her death, leaves him in custody of her six-year-old daughter, Pagan. Addressed to the deceased mother, the story begins on ambiguous and promising ground, with Leo's sexuality, and his true relationship to Pagan, in doubt. But as these ambiguities are clarified, the novel takes on the air of an impassioned plea for single gay fatherhood. Arditti writes exceedingly well, and with resonance, and he traces the ever-evolving relationship between Leo and Pagan with skill and genuine feeling. By the time the evil, custody-grabbing grandparents are introduced, however, and two newspaper columns written by Leo arguing the case against homophobia are reproduced in full, polemic has squeezed the storytelling of much of its breath. Like Arditti's first novel, The Celibate, this work is ambitious both artistically and politically. But here, politics gains the upper, heavy hand. 30,000 first printing; QPC selection; translation, dramatic rights: Harold Ober. (Sept.)
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