AS IF AFTER SEX by Joseph Torchia


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It's difficult to believe that Torchia, author of a sweet and funny debut-novel of Catholic adolescence (The Kryptonite Kid, 1979), is also responsible for this febrile, lurid, pretentious novel of homosexual love--in which narrator Robert muses verbosely on his past/present sex life. Now openly gay in San Francisco, Robert recalls his previous masquerade-life as a closeted Florida reporter--followed by his joyous entrance into the unabashedly gay world. More specifically, he spasmodically remembers his love affair with bodybuilder/hustler Julian. Some of those memories are ecstatic: the lovers' first encounter in a porno-shop peep booth; their redecoration of Robert's bedroom, all in mirrors; a deliriously idyllic Puerto Vallarta vacation together. But Robert also struggles with his accumulating awareness of Julian's darker side: the hustling, the angel dust. . . and other sordid secrets. All of these uncompelling episodes are delivered, unfortunately, in execrable prose--one-sentence paragraphs or horrendously breathless, seemingly unedited passages (""And then it was a prayer, a dream, a clink/, a scream that seemed to echo down the streets and wake up the night and cause windows to open, pants to drop, waves to crash, my heart to flash blindly, electrically, like fluorescence--like neon--into Julian. JULIAN! Julian. JULIAN!"") Even worse is the dialogue: ""'That's what I'm searching for!' he said. 'That's what I want from you,' he said. 'The meaning of love. The transcendence of love. The boundaries, the borders, the very biology you must abandon if you are to metamorphose into something deeper, something truer--some strange new creature of the night.'"" And the result is an amateurish disaster--without the style, wit, or maturity of the better recent gay fiction.

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 1983
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston