Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I know what not to do

I'm reading a mystery with a gay detective, "Death Trick" by Richard Stevenson, and it's a slog. It's not bad, but it was written 30 years ago and has not aged well. It's set in Albany, NY instead of NYC or SF so people are more circumspect about being open about their sexual the extent it winds up feeling like no one has much of a life beyond the bars. Of course, things were a lot different, back then. This was pre-AIDS and before ACT-UP and politics entered the fray to the huge extent that they did. But I had more going on than just going out clubbing, every night.

The problem with this book is, it's boring. I don't care about the characters. They're like something out of an Agatha Christie mystery, where the riddle is the thing, not the various people involved. Same for Earl Stanley Gardner. Their detectives are interesting because they ARE given more then just momentary quirks and a life outside of the book, but for everyone else, it's one description and a name, and the rest is the question mark.

There is one aspect of the book that's got at least my curiosity piqued -- the guy the police suspect of committing the murder apparently was institutionalized by his parents in hopes they could "cure" him of being gay...though that's been only hinted at, so far. Maybe that will be developed more deeply. But as it currently stands, it's a very bland representation of the times.

I mainly think this reflects on the writer, because Tolstoy wrote "War & Peace" and "Anna Karenina" nearly a hundred years earlier and all of his characters have worlds unto themselves. So I can't say that writing has become more involved, since the early 80s, nor can I say there was too deep of censorship of gay novels, because Patricia Nell Warren's "The Front Runner" was beautifully done. It's just...careful and uninvolving.

I'm still going to finish it, just to see if it gets better...and if it fits into what I already think happened. But now I know what more OT needs and why it's pushing to be so much bigger. The mystery may be the thing of the story, but the heart is in the characters and the lives they live, both before and after the book is done.

As for NYC, I'll be getting a grand send-off, tomorrow, to cap this trip. I've got so much packing to do, I may not be able to finish since I'll have close to 10 hours worth of work to do and my plane leaves at 9:10 pm. But we'll see what happens.

Moral of the story? Never, never, never tempt the fates with anything they might find fun to screw around with, because they will do it.

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