The Michigan Daily - Friday, October 21, 1988 - Page 9
Ma div. " es int1o his identity iPo
The Swiming Pool Library
By Alan Hollinghurst
Alan Hollinghurst's first novel is a com-
pletely brave and sensitive approach to
homosexuality, illustrating the differences within
a group of people narrowly defined by society.
Neither apologetic, self-aggrandizing, nor defen-
sive, this is not just another "cause" novel.
Written before the thin whine of hysteria over
AIDS had risen to a repressive scream,
Hollinghurst frees his character to live a life
which has been called today a "life that can no
longer be lived with impunity." History and
Hollinghurst contradict that premise at the basest
level. At times blatantly shocking, Hollinghurst
uses concrete details not only for the sake of
confrontation but for the sake of understanding.
The Swimming Pool Library reveals more about
sexuality of an individual than homosexuality in
William Beckwith, a young writer and artist,
goes through a series of unsuccessful relation-
ships driven by a search for sex, satisfaction and,
of course, although he doesn't want to admit it,
love - a situation that transcends sexual prefer-
ences. He mistakes stark desire and abusive loy-
alty for mutual respect and tender consent, caus-
ing him to get into messy affairs with two
teenage lovers, and in a hotel room with a pick-
up who sports leather wares and power tools.
William's life is charmed, however, with a
friend. Lord Charles Nantwitch collapses in a
public bathroom and is saved by Willy
(Hollinghurst uses William, Will or Willy, to fit
the character's behavior at the time - he is
sometimes strong and forthright but more often
self-satisfied and weak). They later meet at the
bathing club, "The Corry" (of Roman concubine
fame), and develop a working relationship.
As Charles slowly feeds William information
about himself and his homosexuality, the two
Oxford alums discover a common history which
goes beyond social ties. Charles, a regal 83 year
old socialite, explores the historical and mandated
repression of his sexuality by law, society and
each other, and William picks up the blood line
to carry it into modern-day London.
Hollinghurst commands a huge range of vo-
cabulary and language - lots of oiled verbal
muscle, smooth glistening skin, heightened
breathing innuendo and hardened pornographic
However he sometimes tends to portray
William as a little too La Cage aux Folles-ish in
his stereotypical sticky, frosted perception of the
male body. Gym sweat as an "aphrodisiac"?
Although his belle epoche is undeniably
over, William succeeds and remains undefeated by
the pressure and fear of the outside "traditional"
world as well as by his elite inner circle with its
own perverse and unwritten laws. He remains not
unchanged but yet the same - his lifestyle is his
own and it is normal.
The Swimming Pool Library overflows with
talent and, in William's words ...
".... deeper dichotomies , differing stories-
one the 'account of myself' the sex-sharp little
circuits of discos and pubs and cottages, the sheer
crammed, single-minded repetition of my empty
months; the other 'the romance of myself,'
which transformed all these mundanities with a
protective glow, as if from my earliest days my
destiny had indeed been charmed, so that I was
both of the world and beyond its power, like the
pantomime character Wordsworth describes, with
'invisible' written on his chest."
Continued from Page 7
else, are present in the art of Gil
Scott-Heron. Aside from Kwesi-
Johnson, Scott-Heron is the
sharpest, wittiest, dead on the heavy
funk political lyrical hipster that
:music has had since the early '70s.
Whereas Johnson frames his
poems with the riddims of reggae,
Scott-Heron treads a far more ad-
venturous musical path. Scott-
Heron's wild and intoxicating mix of
be-bop, free jazz, and funk is simply
incredible. Outside of the hip-hop
arena, only Prince can claim to be as
Down and vocal a socio-musical force
as Scott-Heron. Go see Scott-Heron live and hear Gil Scott-Heron an artist who not
The chance to see Scott-Heron old classics like "The Bottle," "The only commands your attention, but
live is not to be missed. Particularly Revolution Will Not Be Televised," deserves it.
since virtually all of his more than and "We Almost Lost Detroit," and
15 albums are out of print, live is whatever new songs he's written GIL SCOTT-HERON enlivens and W EEKEND Fridays in The Daily
the easiest way to catch Scott-Heron since the last time we didn't hear enlightens tonight at 8 p.m. at the M AGAZINE 763-0379
these days. Commercial radio cer- from him. Lyrically astute, mu- Mendelssohn Theatre. Sorry, it's
tainly doesn't play him... sically flexible, and spritually alive, sold out.
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