CAPTAIN SWING by Larry Duplechan


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 A gay man finds the pain of visiting his dying homophobic father eased by some cousinly love, in this latest from Duplechan (Tangled Up in Blue, 1989, etc.) Los Angeles jazz singer Johnnie Ray Rousseau is a ``thirty- something-year-old black queer widow-man'' who hasn't sung a note since his lover Keith was killed in a hit-and-run; a year later, he's still having nightmares. Now he's experiencing even more trauma as he visits his cancer-stricken father Lance in rural Louisiana, their original home. Lance had always preferred his manly son David to the effeminate Johnnie; their relationship worsened after David's early death (a drive-by shooting), and nothing has changed, as Lance in the hospital again rejects Johnnie, who endlessly replays the pain. ``I can't believe I'm going over this territory again,'' he says. Nor can the reader, whose scant sympathy for the trembling, weeping, self-dramatizing Johnnie diminishes further when he shows a lack of respect for his cousin Athena, in whose house he's staying. Athena has long accepted Johnnie's gayness (the two share a ``spiritual bond'') but will not accept that her son Nigel is gay; the attractive 18-year- old has pressed himself on Johnnie, and the older man has swiftly if guiltily yielded to temptation and is soon ``head-over- butthole'' in love. Bringing news of Lance's death, Athena discovers the two in bed and goes berserk; meanwhile, the family's formidable Aunt Lucille keeps the peace long enough for Johnnie to sing at his father's funeral before he returns to L.A., reluctantly letting Nigel go and failing to make peace with Athena. Duplechan's women, whom he consistently draws better than his men, give some solidity to what is otherwise a silly and superficial tale.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-55583-234-2
Page count: 180pp
Publisher: Alyson
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993