Life Drawing

Michael Grumley, Author, George Stambolian, Photographer, Edmund White, Introduction by Grove/Atlantic $17.95 (156p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1438-9
Born to a middle-class Midwest family in 1941, Mickey, the narrator of this homosexual odyssey, has a comfortable but uncertain childhood: ``Sexual confusion crept in at an early age.'' Fueled by an excess of Old Crow at 17, this latter-day Huck Finn sets off down the Mississippi to find the world, but discovers instead an 18-year-old black man--``it seemed the world was written all over him, and he fairly glowed with it.'' Their blissful New Orleans affair ends with Mickey's infidelity. After a failed attempt at reconciliation he gives up--a bit too easily, it seems--and follows the fabled Rte. 66 to ``the soft green lap'' of California. In that 1960 sexual wonderland, he leads a life of ``determined profligacy'' that includes a disastrous brush with acting. The early, atmospheric passages of this Life are replete with dreamy, lyrical descriptions and details that deftly flesh out a slim tale. Unfortunately, as the narrative progresses, so does the author's overwriting. Later scenes are marred by unlikely events and florid descriptions; the ending seems both excessive and abrupt. Though ultimately there may be insufficient material here for a novel, lush passages and a strong romantic sensibility are evidence of a talent cut tragically short--Grumley died of AIDS in March, 1988. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
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