SEPARATE ROOMS by Pier Vittorio Tondelli


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 From the late Tondelli (who died in 1991 of AIDS), a first US publication: the story of Italian writer Leo's pilgrimage in search of gay love and, especially, in homage to Thomas, with whom he enjoyed the affair of his life. ``Into Silence'' (the first of three movements--Thomas was a musician) finds Leo flying to Munich, Thomas's hometown, and flashing back to his first meeting with his German lover--who was not ``a Whitman'' (i.e., promiscuous) but had ``an aura of tenderness.'' Tondelli's prose lyrically evokes Leo's yearning and the arc of the affair while also providing a tour of European gay lifestyles before fast-cutting to Thomas dying in Munich and an hallucinogenic dark night of the soul for Leo. In ``Leo's World,'' part two, Leo ``must get on the road.'' Between jaunts, we get more reminiscence about Leo and Thomas (they fascinated others, we are told, because ``Neither of them fitted what was expected of a homosexual''), as well as pocket tours of Cologne, Dresden, London, Milan, and an account of a pre-Thomas, doomed affair and some anonymous S&M. Leo, after coming to feel that S&M is ``possibly the purist and the sincerest perversion he has ever experienced,'' cuts to ``Separate Rooms,'' part three. Thomas attended the Paris Conservatory before returning to Munich; the separation of the two men becomes important to Leo, who ``wanted to go on being a separate lover, he wanted to go on dreaming his love.'' Leo and Thomas achieve a new balance; then Leo becomes ``in his own way...a monk,'' but later, in Canada, finds desire again, and touchingly accepts his mortality and bids farewell. A sweet-natured swan song, and a notable addition to the gay- fiction bookshelf.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1993
ISBN: 1-85242-223-8
Page count: 185pp
Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1993