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CALL ME by P.P. Hartnett


by P.P. Hartnett

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-312-18063-2
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

 A graphic, ghoulish depiction of the more outrÇ aspects of gay sex, as a young London photographer masks his grief over losing his lover to AIDS by throwing himself into the world of personal ads, with grim results. First advertising himself as Bike Boy (black Lycra shorts, pumping thighs, butt in the airyou get the picture), Liam is able to fend off his sad thoughts of Ray by reviewing the flood of mail spawned by his ad. Ensuing contacts include a teenage cyclist, a wealthy Asian, and a professional closeted in the north of England; some of the encounters pass quickly from chat to business. These couplings only whet Liam's appetite, however, and soon he is himself responding to ads across the spectrum, from S&M games to groups. Bounced from being one man's doggie to being bathed and shaved by a trio of curious women; ever on the make with new respondents; continually harassed by the upcountry closet number, who proves to be a dangerous nut-case as well, Liam never stops for long, even though he's aware that his obsession is dragging him into depths where he no longer recognizes himself. Just when his self-degradation seems complete, capped by a brutish visit to Hampstead Heath, notorious as a place for violent trysts, he has another phone calland learns that his hated father has died. While this is the answer to Liam's prayers, it's also another way to lose his bearings, and he responds by sinking even further into the muck his life has become. Not for the squeamish, as they say: a debut novel that's more precise than a pathologist's report (complete with a glossary of terms) and a whole lot more vivid, but even so an eye- opening view of the devastating, horrific effect of loss.