The Greenwich Village demimonde never seemed so demented.
B.K. Troop can’t stop dreaming. Boatloads of Austrian pinot noir that he downs virtually before lunch help keep the fantasy alive, but mainly he’s just high on life—the literary life, that is, starring B.K. Troop. Burnett (Christopher, 2003) creates in this wreck of a faux novelist a memorable comic lead. Right before electro-convulsive therapy fells her, Sasha Buchwitz, Troop’s dearest pal and muse, leaves him her brownstone, but he’s stone broke. Solution? Rent out the heap as an artists’ colony. Here they come: filmmakers with coke habits, experimental painters favoring gynecological themes, addled lesbian folk singers. But of all his guests, Troop fawns fiercest over a greenhorn from the bland Midwest, Adrian Malloy, “the spitting image,” Troop chirps, “of Johnny Keats, my favorite Romantic poet.” Problem One: Troop’s already spoken for, by Pip, the gnomic Vietnamese with the mysterious violent past. Problem Two: Adrian’s not really a poet. Instead, fleeing the cornfields after his father’s death, he’s arrived with a trash bag stuffed with dad’s physics theories. Discovering his dead dad was perhaps a closet genius, Adrian grieves and moons and whimpers, but hardly notices Troop, who, between fantasizing about George Meredith and Bulwer-Lytton, spends most of his time trying to make Adrian the fly to his spider. Why not scheme? After all, he quips, “ethics are a luxury of the secure.” The plot here is dandy, mainly along the lines of speed-freak French farce. But the true joy is Troop’s champagne-giddy language and his besotted love for his houseful of bohemians.
Armistead Maupin on laughing gas.