THE IRREVERSIBLE DECLINE OF EDDIE SOCKET by John Weir

THE IRREVERSIBLE DECLINE OF EDDIE SOCKET

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A patchy first novel about a wistful young man who contracts AIDS and dies. Eddie Socket, healthy, gets by with part-time jobs, incessant movie-going, no sex for two years (he's lost interest), and long campy conversations with his roommate Polly (Eddie has an annoying tendency to quote Whitman, Donne, Lauren Bacall, etc.) and with the pig--""the punishing voice inside Eddie's head. . ."" In short, he's sweet, wistful, and ineffectual, fancying himself somehow an artist. When he meets Merritt, who ""wants a virgin boy to make him innocent again,"" the point of view begins to shift irregularly between Eddie, Polly, and Merritt's lover or ""wife."" AIDS and its paranoia are everywhere, and AIDS funerals are regular events. Eddie and Polly take an acting class together: Polly gets involved in masochistic relationships with narcissists; Eddie's mother writes ""articles for half a dozen different dog and cat magazines""; and his father, a Catholic separated for 18 years, occasionally puts in an appearance. Meanwhile, there is much trendy talk about Woody Allen, the Beatles, and so forth (a gimmick that gets cutesy when chapter titles begin to echo Lennon and Dylan songs), as well as lots of soul-searching and flirtatious chat, before Eddie--spending a weekend with Merritt (""a married man who has a therapist"")--discovers that he has AIDS. He leaves New York, goes to church in Chicago and St. Louis with Eulene (an itinerant drag queen) before realizing ""My life has been this, like, totally projected thing, this fantasy experience. . ."" Eddie returns home, eventually to the hospital, and his friends cope as best they can. Flawed work, then, but with a documentary subtext that effectively chronicles the fate of sex and intimacy among gays in the post-AIDS era.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Harper & Row