SUCH TIMES by Christopher Coe


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 A chatty and ultimately brittle second novel (after Coe's I Love Devine, 1987) about a gay man and his two lovers in the age of AIDS. Coe tells his story through a series of flashbacks, taking readers on a tour of the unbridled gay sex scene of the 70's and early 80's. Timothy, the discursive and self-conscious narrator, a self-described ``pansy bitch of the world,'' knocks his way around Manhattan's bathhouses and sex clubs and learns some brutal lessons (e.g., he always goes to other men's houses for sex because ``no man is apt to kill you in his house, where he would be obliged to get rid of the body''). Eventually, Timothy befriends two older, more sophisticated men--Jasper, who becomes his longtime lover, and Dominick. The bulk of the story is Timothy's frivolous and onrushing account of the ``splendid'' meals, sex, and travel he and his lovers once enjoyed. (None of these characters appears to be employed in any fashion, but they live fabulously nonetheless.) Meanwhile, Timothy's faux sophistication is often cloying: ``I upgraded to first class and ranted when a negroni could not be provided. I bitched about the champagne, hissed at the stewardess that I despised Dom Perignon.'' The book takes a more serious tone when, later, the specter of AIDS looms. Jasper dies, and Dominick falls ill. When Timothy discovers he's HIV-positive, he wanders the streets, scanning faces for ``signs of illness.'' He half expects to see ``thousands of men looking like Rock Hudson, with those same frightened eyes.'' It all ends on something of an upbeat note--when Timothy decides to take his infection as a challenge to live more fully. By this point, though, most readers will be exasperated by Coe's tone-deaf prose. Timothy has an awful disease, but in the end he's too much of a twit to care about deeply.

Pub Date: Aug. 31st, 1993
ISBN: 0-15-186426-8
Page count: 344pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1993