cover image Buddies


Ethan Mordden / Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (240p) ISBN 9

Homosexuality is a sexual inclination, but being gay, observes Mordden in his third fictional work (after One Last Waltz, is about joining a city culture. One's lover is also one's buddy, which he says gives gays one up on straights. Mordden writes like early Henry Miller; instead of linear plot development, there are well-crafted vignettes, structured like short stories that interlock as we jerkily progress from the narrator's childhood to the present. But while Miller was a participant, Mordden has chastely cast himself as the objective observer. In an introduction, he notes that ""these are more pieces than stories, counting character studies, nostalgic recollections and essayistic analyses as well as outright tales.'' Depicting himself as a brat of a child, he also describes his family as the enemy. (``You know how parents send clan photographs at Christmas? The Morddens send their portrait by Charles Addams.'') The adult Mordden uses his writing skill like a meat cleaver. He wheedles and cajoles stories from his friends, though they all know that what they tell him goes straight into the typewriter. The gay community may receive this book with some acclaim, for it is a finely drawn portrait of a lifestyle that blossomed before AIDS struck terror into the culture; but one wonders whether straights will have the same patience with the unpleasant, skulking character Mordden paints of himself, for the narrator is a tough guide to accompany. (November 17)