lunes, 23 de febrero de 2015

The City and the Pillar - Gore Vidal

In my quest of reading more LGBT literature I decided to get my hands on the classics. If they were classics, they would be good, right?

NOPE.

Or at least, The City and the Pillar wasn't. The book is advertised as a gay coming-of-age novel, the first openly gay coming-of-age novel. And it was, and it was quite shocking to say homosexuals were everywhere, or to portray gay men as masculine, or gay love as natural. But that was back in 1948. It's 2015, and gay marriage is starting to be a thing, so I want to think this novel is not necessary anymore. I admired this story for what it did, but did not enjoy it. I suppose I also admire the skill which went into writing it, since Gore Vidal strived for a plain style to avoid distracting readers with florid prose, but unfortunately it was my first Vidal.

The best thing about this novel is the title, which references a Biblical episode. God decided to destroy Sodom to punish Sodomites for their sexual perversions. Some angels rescued Lot and his family from burning Sodom, and they urged them not to look back. Despite the warning, Lot's wife looked back and was instantly turned into a pillar of salt. With time, the term sodomite came to mean homosexual, so the title contains the whole novel: Jim Willard is fixated on the past, and particularly on homosexuality.

My edition also included A Thirsty Evil, which is a collection of seven short stories written by a young Vidal. I was almost tempted to close the book for good after the slog that was The City and the Pillar, but I'm a sucker for short stories. And I'm glad I read them, although the collection was definitely a mixed bag. The style of "Three Stratagems" and "Pages from an Abandoned Journal" was very similar to that of The City and the Pillar. Not in vain are they the two stories in which the theme of homosexuality is more overt. Unsurprisingly, I preferred the other five stories, which reminded me of Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Connor, and Gabriel García Márquez. They are refined, with a Southern flavor, and harbor a sucker punch. A couple of them also have a touch of the supernatural, and these two, which are titled "A Moment of Green Laurel" and "The Ladies in the Library", ended up being my favorites.

Have you read this book? Please, leave a link to your review in the comments and I will link you here!

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