by Gary Indiana
Gary Indiana is a wise and well-respected art critic. a photo of him will show a man who looks really gnomish, wizened well beyond his years, an almost malnourished version of Truman Capote. he is not even remotely a traditionally handsome guy. i say this not to be critical or demeaning; my point is that this is a man who has experienced difference his entire life - so i hoped his perspective would be informed by perhaps something of an outsider mentality. and this lack - combined with the knowledge that he is presumably an intelligent and discerning art critic - is exactly why the rote, annoying Horse Crazy was such a disappointment. Indiana tackles a story and a theme that is so familiar that it becomes inescapably dull and predictable and trite. it is like every other gay or non-gay novel in which an older guy chases after the skirts of some pretty young thing who ends up being a femme or homme fatale, a moral black hole. the eternal - and eternally predictable - pursuit of physical perfection. this is especially aggravating when considering who the author is and what he has probably experienced in his life - physical appearance does create 'outsider status', particularly in Gay World. so why did he play into this paradigm instead of reacting against it or even subverting it? was he aiming for marketable blandness and the standardized depiction of beauty in order to achieve... well, what exactly did he mean to achieve?
the writing is not at all bad. quite dry, quite sardonic. it is, unfortunately, the underlying ideas that are mediocre. there does not appear to be an awareness that a cliche is being trotted out, repeated in yet another book, per usual.
anyway, the novel itself. it is about a photographer obsessed with a manipulative waiter (and a former heroin addict - thus the lame title). the waiter is, of course, oh such a handsome errant prince with such a great, junkie-chic body. the photographer is, of course, all too easily strung along and taken advantage of. YAWN. the only reason this rises above 1-star material is that i had a lot of amusement when our protagonist reacts to finding his love-of-a-lifetime selling whatnot on a nyc sidewalk. his dawning realization that he is obsessed with someone who is not just a hustler, but also sort of a tacky bozo... priceless! suddenly he finds him to be not-so-cute. ha, ha - joke's on you, bougie sucker!
Indiana went on to deliver a postmodern trilogy based on famous modern crimes (among them, andrew cunanan's murder of versace and the menendez brothers' parental slayfest). i wonder if they are more interesting.