Gate's third novel in as many years continues in the same easy and airy manner as Ease and The Aerodynamics of Pork--slender...



Gate's third novel in as many years continues in the same easy and airy manner as Ease and The Aerodynamics of Pork--slender entertainments all, however seriously intended. Undeterred by campiness or coincidence, Englishman Gale sets up a truly contemporary love triangle, distinguished not for its bisexuality but for the fact that, unbeknownst to all, the man in the middle is lover to both a brother and his older sister. In his late 20s, handsome Rufus Barbour fancies himself an ""undiscovered concert pianist,"" reduced to living on the dole, and teaching on the sly. Everyone agrees not only that his musical abilities are mediocre but that he's ""a fully-qualified shit""--selfish and promiscuous, to name just two of his many failings. Hilary Metcalfe, on the other hand, teaches English by day, and hopes to be the next find Astaire, though lately most of his spare time is given not to dancing but to mooning over his faithless lover Rufus, among whose latest female conquests is a young ""physiotherapist"" who picks him up by the side of the road. Of course, she's only pretending to be a bimbo named ""Sandy,"" since she's really Dr. Henrietta Metcalfe, Hilary's sister and a high-powered psychiatrist. While the pseudonymous hedonists discover love, Hilary finds himself the guardian of an abandoned Asian baby, whose fate seems to be of inordinate interest to Hilary's kindly, orthodox Hindu landlady. She's mother to one daughter cast out by her husband for her Western worldliness, and to a younger one. Sumitra, who literally worships Hilary as a god. Gale peoples his topical little fiction with many other minor players (including one from his last book), all representative of a Thatcherite England where bureacracy rules and nothing works--the latter being the fate of this shapeless farce with its countless subplots. Full of admittedly corny sentiment (""Love was having somebody to worry about besides oneself') and thinly disguised polemic (on behalf of ""gay parenting"")--more Erich Segal than Oscar Wilde.

Pub Date: March 15, 1988


Page Count: -

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988