NOW IT'S TIME TO SAY GOODBYE by Dale Peck

NOW IT'S TIME TO SAY GOODBYE

KIRKUS REVIEW

Though it’s not a fully successful novel, this fascinating melodrama of sexual and racial confusion, conflict, and injustice is both a bold departure from and a logical outgrowth of the brooding studies of gay angst (Martin and John, 1993; The Law of Enclosures, 1996) that established Peck as one of our most interesting younger writers. Thematic and other echoes of the earlier books resound throughout this big novel, which relates through a large chorus of townspeople’s voices the explosive occurrences after writer Colin Nieman and his lover “Justin Time” flee AIDS-polluted New York for a rural Kansas town that’s effectively divided into white and black subsections, Galatea and Galatia. The pair’s interrelations with numerous bruised and guilty souls--a black hustler named Divine, a woman “archivist” obsessed with unearthing her town’s secrets, and a wealthy matriarch who may have ordered a murder are prominent among them--reveal a dauntingly intricate heritage of violence: the lynching of a black teenager falsely accused of “touching” a young girl, the real crime that underlay the town’s mania for “justice.” The ambiguities in both of the novels Colin has written (and will write) and of the very one we’re reading are--a bit affectedly--linked to that mystery. More persuasively, the infectious momentum here powerfully dramatizes what its characters call “humanity’s need to reveal itself through written confession” and the truth that “most people have only one secret, and that secret is whom they truly love.” Peck incorporates his story’s grand mal particulars into a surprisingly tightly plotted narrative, weakened but not quite sunk by its penchant for excess (the resolution of that lynching victim’s story is both overwrought and opaque). And to its benefit and detriment (in almost equal measure), this very literary fiction is derivative, to varying degrees, of James Purdy, James Leo Herlihy, Erskine Caldwell, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, an

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-374-22271-1
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1998




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