JOSEPH AND THE OLD MAN by Christopher Davis


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An embarassingly sentimental, eye-glazingly dull first novel about a May-December gay romance tom asunder when ""May"" is killed in a car accident. Oswald Stevenson is a tough old brogan of a novelist who lives on Fire Island with his young topsider of a lover, Joseph Ross, a history teacher. They're decades apart in age, but they've been together for 10 years, and have become a Fabled Couple in the Cherry Grove community--they are ""in"" for polite and respectful callers on certain days each week, as long as said callers drink sparingly and listen respectfully to the Old Man's (as Joseph calls him) stories of Gertrude Stein and the old days. As summer draws to a close, Joseph returns to New York to set up his classes for the year and on the way back to Fire Island is killed in a car accident. The Old Man is utterly bereft; he allows himself to be comforted, puts up with the slurs of Joseph's grieving father (""You're just an old faggot"") and gets through the funeral service, but decides to end it all by drowning himself--except that he's washed back ashore when he loses his will, and realizes he must live. The characters here are mere romantic cartoons, drenched in a dreadful bathos, and Davis' writing style reads like a Hemingway parody: ""The old man was sad because he was no longer young and no longer sleek and Joe was, but then, watching the young man playing in the water, he thought of otters and he laughed. He laughed at himself and he laughed at the thought of otters and he was no longer sad."" All in all: mannered, self-conscious, and inexcusably humorless writing.

Pub Date: June 30th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's