Books by James Robert Baker

TIM AND PETE by James Robert Baker
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 1993

Baker (Fuel-Injected Dreams, 1986; Boy Wonder, 1988) brings together two gay ex-lovers for a 24-hour swing through the streets and byways of L.A. Sex, drugs, rock-and-roll, and violence: the guided tour is sometimes smartly satirical, sometimes padded with endless pages of dialogue, mind-numbing instances, and predictable types, though a Charlie Manson riff livens up the finish. Tim, the narrator, is in the film business, and Pete is a musician: they have been alienated from each other for almost a year, but, in a ``restored metallic blue 1968 Camaro convertible,'' they hit the streets in a manic prose style full of allusions to movies and pop songs. First, they visit Pete's mother, who works for an ultra-homophobic right-wing congressman; they find the politician having sex with the mother, whereupon Pete tries to punch him out. Then at an AA clubhouse they meet Carol C., a Manson girl, and later in Long Beach a transsexual. Some of this nightlife oddball tour is interesting, but some of it tries too hard for effect, whether for laughs, outrage, or explosiveness. And there are far too many flashbacks and far too much riposting between the two ex-lovers (``You're a toxic person for me, Tim''). Finally, there's too much insufficiently dramatized anger at almost anyone who isn't gay, mostly attributed to Pete, though the radical rhetoric can come from any quarter and eventually takes over the plot—in the form of graphic S&M fantasies and secondary characters who intend to kidnap, first, an anti-AIDS homophobic comic, then Reagan and Bush. It all gets a little muddy and delirious at the end, as though Baker wanted a movie climax for his road saga. Still, despite the excesses and overall shapelessness: some antic instances and vivid nostalgia for pre-AIDS gay life, combined with a pungent depiction of rabid heterophobia. Read full book review >